At first it was a little white one looming in the distance. Just big enough to catch your interest and get you snapping away on the zoom lens. Soon enough, we were right up next to these giant towering monsters, gliding by with pride as we stood small in their shadows. Antarctica loomed – we had seen our first icebergs!
After 48 hours spent lying flat listening to the drawers slowly rolling open and shut to the sway of the boat, I could not have been more overjoyed to reach the calm, pristine Antarctica waters. By afternoon, after briefings from the expedition’s safety officer ‘Jumper’ on how any deviation from the strict rules and protocols would result in certain death (!!), it was time to jump on the zodiacs and touch land! We zipped over to Trinity Island where ‘experiential learning’ took on a whole new meaning.
In the past 48 hours, I have seen Orca and humpback whales cruising along, nonchalantly blowing from their airholes, oblivious to the overwhelming excitement this causes onlookers. I have witnessed a penguin in its natural environment waddling backwards and forwards from its nest, carefully selecting pebbles and forming them into a little pile, not knowing that it is far too late in the season and that his carefully-pruned nest will never attract a mate at this stage in the breeding cycle. I’ve watched grouchy seals kicking up a fuss when the youngster seals’ play resulted in landing on their sleeping heads – and have also watched fledglings in the process of losing their down so they can take to the sea and fend for themselves before the Antarctic winter sets in.
Talk about hands-on experience! We are learning from the most impactful and inspiring of environments about sustainability and it is overwhelmingly powerful.
This evening, after reviewing the thousandth penguin picture I’ve taken and enjoying a welcome supper, we sat down for ‘cafe sessions’ in the lounge onboard. We had the chance to pitch our sustainability ideas to Robert Swan himself and gain his feedback – the most powerful of which was to take our ideas and align with other likeminded individuals on the expedition and the 2041 alumni to make them more impactful, global initiatives.
We spoke with an executive working in the renewable technologies and carbon control area of Europe’s biggest oil and gas provider on the issues surrounding climate change and how to encourage action. He talks about finding what drives people – with a key message to listen and understand your audience and then provide answers and solutions that are tailored and relevant to them.
These are some of the most interesting conversations I may have ever had. Tomorrow we have an early start – out on the zodiacs for an hour-long cruise through ‘Iceberg Alley’ and a late, cold night ahead of us as tomorrow night we will sleep out on the ice!! I say “Bring it on!” and look forward to another day of unique experiences.
We will continue to do our best to share our experiences “live” via satellite phone while here, but it’s proving a bit difficult to upload from this remote continent – as you might expect. We promise to keep posting as we’re able and to enrich the blog with additional thoughts and many, many more pictures upon our return!