Mar 04, 2018 - National Geographic Orion
From watercolors to dark matter, from a historical perspective on whaling to the logistics of polar diving, and an afternoon ice cream social to top it all off, the first full day at sea onboard National Geographic Orion offered entirely different sorts of excitement after our time in South Georgia.
Mary Heebner began the sea day by offering an artist’s perspective on the voyage through her sketches and watercolors. She is the wife of National Geographic Photographer Macduff Everton, and since 1988 they have collaborated on sharing stories and beauty from around the globe. Working from a small, cold-pressed paper notebook and travel watercolor set, Mary spent hours by a window in the lounge creating a body of artistic work that may become a larger series, or perhaps a signature handmade letter press book including her art, thoughts, and lecture notes from the trip.
By mid-morning, we had shifted gears from art to astronomy and pondered two big questions with guest lecturer Sidney Wolff: What is the Universe made of? Is there life out there in the Universe? Sidney described the universe as a time machine, in that we can see back billions of years with powerful telescopes to young galaxies that are far, far away. Drawing parallels between Antarctica and astronomy, both of which operate in global partnerships for the advancement of human knowledge and science, those in attendance were eager to discuss possibilities for other life forms in “habitable zones” of other solar systems.
The expedition staff returned to the stage in the afternoon with Historian Peter Wilson sharing a lecture on “Whaling: History and the Modern World.” By providing context for the exploration and exploitation of many places we have visited throughout the last two weeks, Peter fielded questions on current whaling practices and shared many unknown historical uses of whale oil, from fuel for street lamps to margarine and cosmetic products.
Our polar dive team delighted their ocean-loving audience with detailed descriptions of their equipment. Naturalist and Expedition Diver Robert Alexander and Undersea Specialist Caitlyn Webster shared the technical aspects of how they collect footage to bring the underwater world to guests in the warm comforts of the lounge. Driven by the excitement of exploring waters that may have previously been unseen by human eyes, our undersea team carries over 100lbs of gear with them on every dive to remain safe and unfrozen beneath the frigid waters of the Southern Ocean.
And of course, the cherry on top of this sea day was the Ice Cream Social! Despite 45 knot gusts of wind, guests cheerfully waited in line on the back deck to construct their perfect sundaes and showed that they have truly gained their sea legs!
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