At sea, the infamous Drake Passage
Drake Passage Travel Blog› entry 5 of 16 › view all entries
December 9th, 2000 – by: portia
The Drake Passage is the northern part of the waterway between south America and Antartica. The straight distance between Ushuaia and our first stop in Antartica is at least 600 miles, we are talking about a long distance. The water from the Atlantic meets the Pacific in the Drake Passage, it is iinfamous because it's usually rough! Well, our crew told us this was actually one of the best, smoothest passings.
About half way in between south America and Antartica is an invisible boundary called the Antarctic Convergence. Also known as the Antarctic Polar Front, this is the natural boundary between the cold, north-flowing Antartic water and the warmer subAntartic water. Once crossed the Convergence, we could feel the tempature drop a bit, and the water actually became calmer.
However, back at the Drake Passage, after looking at the black browed albatrosses and petrels for a while, and attended the lecture on Sea birds of the Southern Ocean by one of the onboard naturalists, the water did get too rough for me, and I retired to the cabin to sleep it off. I tried but was unsuccessful in getting up to have dinner. My husband Kevin was not seasick, so he had a great time watching the sea and talking to the crew in the bridge. However, he told me later that most of the passengers were not able to make dinner, so I was not the only one or even a minority in getting seasick on the infamous Drake Passage.
Many lectures were given on board, including an introduction to the Antartic Peninsula, and another on the Foundaion of Antarctia. You may not be aware that Antartica does not belong to any one nation, the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 established Antarctica as a zone for peace and science, and a natural preserve. Environmental protocols were adopted to ensure that any human activities, including tourism, do not adversely impact the pristine and fragile Antarctic environment. The obvious laws and regulations such as
- Do not feed, touch or handle birds or seals, or approach or photograph them in ways that disturb wildlife
- Do not damage plants, for exmple by walking or landing on extensive moss beds or lichen-covered slops
- Do not damage, remove or disturb historic sites and monuments or artifacts
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