I saw my first Iceberg today. Rather WE saw our first Iceberg today! We were all in a session on ‘Whales’ in the Nautilus lounge, when Isabelle shouted: “ICEBERG!”. And all the people in the room ran outside onto the deck at the same time! Luckily our session was just about over and Katya who was giving the presentation didn’t seen to mind it and understood our excitement of seeing our very first Iceberg!! People went crazy taking pictures and even selfies with the Iceberg. It was pretty big. There was a contest announced for spotting the first iceberg (which had to be bigger than the size of a school bus) that was indeed won by Isabelle.
It was ironic that we all were happy to see our first iceberg, as we later learnt in our next session by Colin called ‘Ice sheets and Ice shelves, change in Antarctica’. You see, Ice shelves are melting. They are breaking due to the increase in temperature and Climate Change. They are not supposed to be drifting this far out and away from the mainland Antarctica. We were just so excited to see something we’ve only ever read about and seen on television that our first reaction was to naturally pull out our camera, and not “THINK”. Food for thought.
Fun Fact: It is considered bad luck to mention ‘the Titanic’ on any Ship.
As narrated by two teammates… They were up on the Bridge of the ship and ended up in an animated discussion about icebergs, which naturally led to the topic of the Titanic and the conversation took all possible connotations one of which was “What would happen if an iceberg hit our ship?” “Would we drown?”…. The captain walks up to them and goes like: “You do not say the T-word on the Ship.”
Later in the afternoon we had a fun session called ‘Ropes and knots: Preparing for Glacier Travel’ by Jason that only added to our nervous anticipation(good nervous) of finally stepping on Antarctic land tomorrow. We learnt to tie all sorts of knots and tied ourselves together with one long rope using all the secure knots we just learnt how to tie and walked all around the ship deck with the wind blowing hard. It was fun. We were also briefed by Cheli on the environment laws surrounding Antarctica, the IAATO norms, Disembarkation, How to get on and off the Zodiacs(the black cruising boats) and how to gear up before we step outside.
Antarctica has a huge hole in the ozone layer on top of it. That’s why we need SPF 50+ sunblock and polaroid glasses. At the end of his 70-day walk to the south pole in 1984, Robert Swan’s eyes went from Ice Blue to Pale grey. The hole is, however, repairing itself today. But the safety standards still stand. Antarctica will probably have the clearest airs in the world with no civilization (except for our coal burning ship) in its vicinity.
The big question lingering in all our minds is: What does Antarctica Smell like?
If you are wondering what qualifies us to be called Climate Change Ambassadors while burning a whole lot of fuel, well, the organisation offsets our carbon footprint to make this expedition by activities such as planting trees and with other environment-related activities. It is a part of our contract and we are informed of it on being selected. And this point was reiterated today at the seminar.
All set to smell Antarctica!