Monday, 21 November 2016

On to the Strait of Magellan

Events of Sunday, 20th November (Afternoon)

After lunch, I worked on the computer for a while before going to the Panorama Lounge for afternoon tea. Another Trivia Quiz was in progress but since the subjects were ‘Prehistoric Animals’ and ‘Food around the World’, I didn’t feel that I could contribute anything. However, the quiz rather ended in disarray following an announcement over the Public Address that Orca whales had been spotted to starboard and encouraging all passengers to come out on deck. There was a mass exodus towards the observation decks, fore and aft. Many of the passengers, including me, were only in indoor clothes but it was a warm afternoon with no wind in the sheltered waters so it was very enjoyable.

On an expedition ship like ‘Silver Explorer’, it’s not unusual for plans to change at short notice so I was not surprised when the ship abandoned its original course and turned to place us nearer the location of the sighting. An extraordinary period of half an hour or so followed as the guests gasped in amazement each time the massive creatures appeared at the surface.

There was a pod of at least four whales, identified by the Expedition Team as South Atlantic Orcas, probably sub-type A. We were told that it’s unusual to find them this far north. To avoid disturbing the whales, the ship did not attempt too close an approach but our sighting as rated as ‘very good’ by our field experts. Certainly the whales made no attempt to move away, although they would certainly have been aware of the ship. Eventually, the whales were seen to be slowly moving northwards so the sighting was terminated and the ship resumed its southern route. I'm afraid I didn't have my camera with me to record the scene but, in any case, neither my camera nor its owner are very well suited for nature photography.

The Orca sighting had overlapped the planned start of the five o’clock lecture, which was duly deferred to 5.15 p.m., when we were entertained by an informative and amusing lecture by Peter Damisch, the historian on the expedition team, entitled ‘Search for the Unknown Antarctic Continent’. A little later, the usual ‘Recap and Briefing’ took place in the theatre, where the programme for the next day was laid out (we were to have another ‘day at sea’ as we continued to Punta Arenas). There was then discussion and questions regarding the whale sighting and the birds observed to which a number of members of the Expedition Team contributed.

Another splendid evening meal followed which I enjoyed with a couple originally from England but now retired to Australia. During the meal, we passed a small cargo ship with three self-unloading cranes going north but I failed to identify it. This was the first ship I’d noticed since we came through English Narrows.

Aboard 'Silver Explorer': View from the restaurant as we pass a northbound cargo ship.

This was not quite the end of the evening. The friendly and attentive restaurant staff urged my companions and I to go the Panorama Lounge at ten o’clock where three members of the restaurant staff forming ‘The Crew Band’ were to sing for the guests to the music of the resident pianist. It was a jolly end to the evening before retiring to bed.

Aboard 'Silver Explorer': Vocals by members of the waiting staff in the Panorama Lounge.

Related Posts

Next post describing this trip: Cruising to Punta Arenas.
All posts describing this trip: Chilean Fjords.

My pictures

Where necessary, clicking on an image above will display an 'uncropped' view or, alternately, my pictures from this (and earlier) trips may be selected, viewed or downloaded, in various sizes, from the albums listed:-

Pictures aboard 'Silver Explorer' are here.
All my pictures of Chile can be found in the collection Chile.

[Events date and Orca type corrected: 24-Nov-2016. Link to pictures added, picturers added: 25-Jan-2017]