Tuesday, December 13, 2011

BIG (Nov. 18)

Well, this morning we woke up not knowing where we'd be.  There are storms brewing between us and Antarctica, and we are in for a fairly rough crossing, or so we're told... The ship will spend the next two days zig-zagging between storms in an attempt to find the calmest crossing possible.  As a result, we weren't sure when we woke up whether we'd still be in SGI or already on the move to beat the storms.  
We did wake up in SGI, which was always the intended schedule, but we were in the wrong place.  Our intended destination was also going to be rough and therefore wasn't a very hospitable place to anchor overnight, so we awoke in a familiar place: Gold Harbor.  This was the landing earlier in the week where we had beautiful light, thousands of penguins, and elephant seals!  Coming back was always a hope of mine, but typically unusual for these trips.  So for me at least, it was a pleasant surprise!
As we departed from Gold Harbor, we said goodbye to SGI in a spectacular fashion, or perhaps I should say that the island gave us a spectacular farewell!  The view of the mountains was incredible.  All of the peaks were snow covered all the way down to the sea and glaciers surrounded many of the peaks.  The peaks looked like daggers trying to slice the cold sky.  I couldn't believe the number of sharp mountains!  That island is truly a special place! It seemed to be inviting us back to experience all of its hidden wonders!
And that wasn't even the high point of the day!? On our way to Antarctica, we had to take a detour for...whales!  Ahhhh, saying that just seems peaceful!  We turned towards the distant signs of these great creatures to get a closer glimpse.  As we got closer to the numerous whale blows that appeared on the horizon like white trees, we found that we were watching a group of dozens of fin whales feeding on the surface.  This is a new type of whale for me, and it happens to be the second largest whale alive!  We continued to get closer and closer, but some of the whales didn't look quite the same.  Yes, the best thing possible happened, funny how that sometimes happens...!   BLUE WHALE! I can't figure any other way to make it sound more exciting.  Just seeing one has always been a dream of mine, a point on my life-list!  You first see his head break the surface and then the back, and then the back, and then some more of the back, and then finally the tiny little dorsal fin!  It was incredible, but then there was a second!  We were watching two of not only the largest whale in the world, not only the largest animal in the world, but the largest animal that has EVER lived!!!  That's big! 

Fin Whales and Blue Whale.


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