Photos and commentary from Feldman family vacations.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Communing with Humpbacks: Adelaide Island

From Antarctica
Sunrise: 0437
Sunset :2244

Today we are crossing the line of latitude which marks the Antarctic Circle. It is this human-created line of latitude which is actually determined by the tilt of the globe where there is twenty four hours of daylight at least at the summer solstice. We had exceptional weather so we were able reach the large island of Adelaide and the mainland called Gullet. During the morning we chose the Zodiac ride first and the hike on the island second. What a fortunate choice for us as another OMG moment happened – a very curious humpback whale was spotted and we were able to be by his side for almost an hour along with about five other Zodiacs.

This big fellow (or gal – no one knows) was most curious indeed about us. He came along side the Zodiacs time and time again. One time he even lifted his head so far out of the water that you could see his eye – again he was looking right at the passengers. One person actually touched him. I thought that might be a bad idea but the guide said that the whale probably did not know the difference. This whale could have swam off at any point but he seemed to enjoy playing hide and seek with us. Humpbacks are not predators in the same sense as sharks or orkas – they don’t eat seals or penguins but rather mostly krill. The males sing – they all sing the same song for about a year and then they make up a new song. How is it that people can kill these beautiful animals? I understand that the Japanese are now lobbying to be able to kill the larger whales – everyone should continue blogging about this so that we can help the youth in Japan realize what their government is requesting.

That afternoon we went on a hike on the island. It was strenuous because we were walking almost entirely on rocks. We saw one small fur seal that was dying on the beach. Someone asked if we could give him the last rites. I made the sign of the cross and said a Hail Mary. We did not know why he was dying – there appeared to be no injuries. Here we saw numerous fur seals and lots of penguins (even a lone Emperor, the only one we saw all trip). Mike got some great pictures.

It was a tiring day and again I had an afternoon nap before the cocktail hour. Every day we have brief lectures on various topics from the naturalists and researchers. I might also mention that there are two underwater divers with us that film what is going on underneath the water during our trip. They show the film in the evening and tell us about the plant and animal life living below the ice!

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