Antarctica - Day 5: Crossing the Circle
We woke up early to an announcement that we were about to cross the Antarctic Circle. I had specifically picked this cruise itinerary because I wanted to not just set foot on my seventh continent, but physically travel to both the Polar and Antarctic Circles. I traveled to the Polar Circle about 5 years ago with my Dad when we went to Alaska to see the Northern Lights.
When we went outside, there were constant updates from Shane. 5 miles out. 2 miles out. 1 mile out. Then the announcement that we had officially “Crossed the Circle” – we were south of 66°33’! To celebrate the occasion, we had some hot chocolate and took pictures with a sign commemorating the accomplishment
Otherwise, today was a bit of a lemon in that we weren’t able to land anywhere and we weren’t even able to get out onto the zodiacs. It was quite a shame, but something that is to be expected when traveling to somewhere like Antarctica with strong winds and unpredictable weather. Both of the places we were supposed to stop were too turbulent for us to even get on a zodiac.
In an effort to not make the day a complete loss, our on board subject matter experts gave a more detailed presentation on how rocks are formed and specific information about Antarctic glaciers. The historian also spoke about voyages that claimed to discover Antarctica, but likely did not, including a book that proposed the Chinese discovered Antarctica in the 1400’s. We also learned that, at the time of discovery, many of the explorers believed that the north and southern hemispheres were mirrors of each other, so many of the names of islands and bays were called “South [Insert Name Here]” of things that existed in the north (i.e. South Shetland Islands).
After the lecture, I decided to head up to the ship's observation lounge to take in the beautiful scenery around us as we sailed through the Crystal Sound.
The real highlight of the afternoon happened when I was out looking at the scenery! We saw a bunch of whales surround our ship – they even fluked numerous times! I got quite a few pictures, but it is the first time I was so close to a whale that I heard the whale song. It was so cool!
I learned that you can upload a picture of a whale's tail to happywhale.com and there is a database where they can tell you where your whale has been and keep you updated on where it goes! If it is a new whale that isn't in their system yet, you get to name the whale yourself!