Sunday, December 21, 2014

Day 4 - A Peaceful Summer Solstice

It could be said that in Antarctica, time does not exist.  Weather patterns, life cycles, sunrise/sunset, those exist, yes; but actual time as we know it – the passage of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years – feels suspended, trapped in the ice of the frozen landscape.  In fact, standard time, literally, does not exist here because in Antarctica there is no officially recognized time zone.  The time zone by which we are operating is the same as they use in our city of departure, Ushuaia, Argentina.  Same goes for other ships traveling to this area – they recognize the time zone of the location from which they depart. 

Having spent the past 28 hours sailing in the open water, the gentle waves of the “Drake Lake” lulling us into perpetual drowsiness (we got incredibly lucky on this passage),  and the fact that the sun still has not completely set by now (it is 11:30 p.m.), I am losing track of time.    In some respects, this is the most liberating experience thus far. Removing the constraints of linear time has allowed for me to absorb more information, have more meaningful conversations, and enjoy this experience in a profound way.
Our daily agendas are printed basically on a daily basis.  We have general items that are standard – meals and time slots for various activities – but we are not on a specific schedule.  This allows us the flexibility to adjust to whatever amazing experiences might appear out here in the southern ocean.  For now, we are on track to cross 60° South Latitude – marking our arrival into the area of Antarctica – sometime within the next hour or so.  Tomorrow morning we are anticipating a visit to a chinstrap penguin colony, and I am getting very excited!

Today’s agenda included an overview of the Antarctic Treaty, a lecture on krill and sustainability of resources and ecosystem conservation in Antarctica, and a refresher course on how to use our cameras to create optimum images.

Some notes on each of the topics include:
  •    If we change the language of photography, it changes the way we approach it.  Instead of saying we are “taking photos,” we could say “making images.”  This shift in language causes us to pause and thoughtfully consider how to use our cameras to create beautiful images that tell stories, versus aggressively or disconnectedly “capturing” a subject.  Photos are all about perspective and composition and can be thought of as “the art of painting with light.”
  •     Krill.  There is a lot to say about the disruptions that are happening with the krill population as a result of climate change and fishing enterprises.  Depletion in the krill population disrupts the balance in this polar ecosystem because they are the food that penguins, and other animals, eat.  Less food means fewer babies and, without the proper regulations or sustainability mindset, this could have disastrous consequences for penguin populations…to the extreme case of endangerment.
  •     Antarctica belongs to nobody and everybody all at once.  The Antarctic Treaty has defined Antarctica as a place for global peace and scientific exploration.  Policies are influenced by several Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s).  The Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Living Resources was created as a part of the Antarctic Treaty, and is charged with meeting annually to discuss issues related to the continent.  The scientific committee is instrumental in conducting research and writing papers to advise this group, and support them in determining courses of action.  The end results of this range, from creating public campaigns, advising political leaders, and educating the world about how to approach our interactions with the environment through a focus on ecosystems and precaution.

Throughout the course of the day, there were constant reminders of the need for an interdisciplinary approach to educational studies.  If our young people are going to be properly prepared for a sustainable future, and to be the innovative problem-solvers the world desperately needs, we have a responsibility to help them see connections all around them.  It is an intellectual challenge to be a little out of my area of expertise (science), and I am relishing every bit of knowledge I can gain. 

I hope that you are learning a lot as well as a result of this blog!  Please post any questions you have and I can do my best to get them answered.
A glance at my watch tells me that it is “officially” 12:30 a.m. and so I must get some sleep.  There is still a small glow on the horizon, and our daily report tells us that the sun will be back up around 3:30 a.m.

Happy Solstice!

Relaxing for the night in the Reception area.  This was taken around 10:30 p.m.

Photos from the stern - trying to capture the sunset

1 comment:

  1. I like the fact that it belongs to no one but belongs to everyone.