Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Drake Passage

The last two days we sailed through the Drake Passage. The first day held true to its promise: 50 knot winds and 30-40 foot seas kept most of the people horizontal. The first time I tried to eat was dinner. But today it all calmed down and the going is incredibly smooth. And we've almost made it. As I write we are at 61 deg 26 min S, almost at the end of the passage. In fact, we can already see some of the islands on the northern end of the peninsula.

One of the great things about being in the southern ocean is the opportunity to see albatross. Today's picture shows a young Wandering Albatross. You can tell it's young, because the wings are still mostly black. These amazing birds stay at sea for most of their lives. They are amazing gliders and can reach wing spans exceeding 3.5 m. It is a beautiful sight when they glide along the ship, easily keeping up and only make small changes to the shape of the wing, going for long periods without having to flap their wings. Unfortunately, these great birds are increasingly threatened by long line fishing (they eat the bait, get hooked, and drown), and by plastic garbage that floats in the ocean and accumulates in their stomachs.

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