Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Setting off from Montevideo

We joined the ship in Montevideo as three containers - one with kit and two with built in labs inside - had to be shipped from Lisbon after another ship finished a research cruise there last month. They eventually arrived, with some bits missing, and we were able to leave.

Long-liner in the docks

Just-in-time-delivery: some replacements for the missing kit arrive as the mooring ropes are being untied. An engineer on board made a replacement for another piece and another was borrowed off another scientist who had a spare. Still a couple of bits missing but not a bad effort.

Leaving the port

There were lots of birds over the Argentinian shelf, many familiar from around the UK: Great (and Sooty) Shearwaters and Wilson's Petrels breed in the South Atlantic and 'winter' in the North Atlantic during our summer while other birds that breed in the UK were down here - probably young non-breeders as breeding birds should be making their way north again by now.

Great Shearwater in heavy moult - it is autumn down here so birds are going through their post-breeding moult

Sooty Shearwater

Wilson's Petrel

Black-browed Albatross

South American Sea Lions

Magellanic Penguin - all the people new to going South were happy to see their first penguins early

Northern Royal Albatross - a New Zealand breeder that spends non-breeding time largely over the South American shelf - they breed every two years.

Feeding mass of seabirds - Sea Lions and diving birds (mostly Penguins but Shearwaters are surprisingly good underwater) push food up to the surface where other birds can reach it.

Sei Whales off the Falklands

A quick call into the Falklands to pick someone up gave an opportunity for some whale and dolphin watching. Sei Whales are regular in March close to shore - there were at least 10 but none close. Peale's Dolphins also came to play on the way in and out.

Cape Pembroke lighthouse, a popular walking destination when we have time in Stanley

Cruise ship moored off the Narrows. Running excursions for cruise ship passengers is big business in the Falklands - the farm to the north has Rockhopper and Gentoo Penguin colonies and makes far more money from them than their sheep.

Now heading across Drake Passage to the start of our transect, should be there late tomorrow but the wind has unexpectedly increased so we'll have to see. We're also monitoring the satellite sea ice images to see if we can get to all our stations (well, the ship can, just slowly and we don't have much time)

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