Welcome to Antarctica! After the calm crossing through the Drake Passage the temperature became noticeably colder as we entered into Antarctic waters. Icebergs, seals and whales were starting to appear. Excitement was building as Antarctica was within sight.
- We “swing (our legs over the rim) and slide (into our seat)” to enter the zodiac.
- The land would be marked by flags each with different meaning: single flag=safe path, crossed flags=unsafe and two flags=penguin highway.
- Figure 8 on a bight, alpine butterfly and water knot were more than familiar from my rock climbing experience.
Biosecurity is taken very seriously in order to prevent the introduction of non-native species into Antarctica. Every piece of gear and clothing was vacuumed and the bottom of our boots were scrubbed. Each time we entered or exited the zodiacs, we stepped through a disinfectant to clean the muck boots we had been given.
During the afternoon we heard a disturbing presentation by Marcus Ericksen, co-founder of a non-profit organization, 5 Gyres, dedicated to understanding plastic pollution. We learned how plastic breaks down and becomes microplastics and accumulate in the five oceanic gyres. Another form of microplastics called microbeads, used in personal care products like face wash, washes down our drains and directly into the water system.
We are polluting our oceans at an alarming rate and the toxic plastics swirling around the ocean are rapidly entering our food chain. I wonder if the sushi I like so much would soon taste like plastic? Can we reverse this harm to our oceans? What can I do to make a difference?