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Saturday, December 31, 2011

To view photos and journals from December 30, click here:

December 30 Daily Journey Update

Scroll down to read today's journal updates and view photos

Expedition Update - 9:30pm EST

Expedition leader, Geoff Green, reported today that it was a rock and roll day on the Drake, but everyone is doing well. Quite a few students were seasick but are toughing it out and making it to the workshops, getting out on deck, etc. Sea conditions are improving and the sun is shining! They have had lots of Wandering Albatrosses, Cape Petrels, and other seabirds following the ship throughout the day. Only a few more hours to 2012!

Expedition Update - 3:30pm EST

A quick update to inform you that we have posted new journal entries that were written yesterday! Please visit the December 30th Daily Journey Update page to read. Enjoy!

Expedition Update - 9:30am EST

Good Morning Readers!

The first update of the day was sent this morning by Geoff Green. He reports that they had a great final day in Ushuaia yesterday. The group challenged itself by hiking to and from Laguna Esmeralda. What a hike into the Andes through old growth beech (lenga) forests and bogs to the lake! At 6pm they cast off the lines and set sail down the Beagle Channel. Everyone was out on deck to cheer, sing and celebrate this next stage of the journey to Antarctica. The good karma was in full effect, as the sky was painted with double rainbows and friendly seabirds following the ship down the Beagle Channel! Following a ship safety briefing, dinner, stories and an evening recap, it was time to say good night. A tired bunch of explorers crawled into their bunks around 11pm.

Early this morning the ship reached the Drake Passage and started to roll with 35 knot winds and a good swell from the west. As a result, not many people had a sound night´s sleep. All part of the experience! Conditions are better now and it looks like they should improve throughout the day. The air temperature is 4.5 celsius (40 F). For the last day of 2011, the team will fill their day at sea day with lectures, workshops, and time on deck watching albatross and the mighty southern ocean!

Below is an outline of todays schedule. We invite you to view the expedition field staff biographies to learn more about our team of experts!

0700 - Yoga (Clare Glassco and Danièle Testelin)

0730 - Wakeup call

0800 - Breakfast

0900 - Sea Birds Presentation (Santiago Imberti)

1000 - Workshops:

            1. Journal Keeping Circle: Creating a mixed media journal (Elin Kelsey)
            2. How to create a powerful photo story (Mike Beedell)
            3. Musicology (Tony Dekker)
            4. Visual Art (Pablo Gamenara)
            5. Wildlife Surveys (Santiago Imberti, Garry Donaldson & Sonja Heinrich)
            6. The Global Positioning System (Jeff Kavanaugh and Grant Redvers)
            7. On the bridge - Ship Navigation (David Fletcher)

1145 - Presentation 1 ~ Who are they? How do they fit in? Questions and
           answers about the ecology of Antarctica (Olle Carlsson)

1230 - Lunch

1430 - Presentation: The Global and Southern Ocean: Oceanography at the
            bottom of the World (Grant Redvers)

1600 - Snack

1630 - Pod Meeting 2

1800 - Presentation 2 ~ Antarctic Marine Animals (Sonja Heinrich)

1930 - Dinner

2030 - Evening Recap and Briefing, New Year's Eve Festivities and Celebration


Student Journals - December 31st

Selin Jessa

Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada

Today was a kickoff to the education program, beginning with a series of eye-opening lectures and workshops. Santiago, an ornithologist, began the day with a lecture on seabirds, shedding some light on a group of animals we often overlook because they're everywhere. Seabirds are magnificent, though. The beauitful wandering albatross with its dark plumage has a wingspan of 3.5 m. After breeding, they don't return to land for between 5-7 years, expending so little energy coasting on wind currents. They live on the wind. Other birds, like some petrels, travel 25,000 km in a year around the Pacific - absolutely incredible. Later I went to a workshop with Santiago and Sonja, a marine biologist, who taught us how to identify the different sea birds and what tools researchers use to survey therm to yield more information about their habits, their conservation status, their populations and more. We stood at the very top deck, behind the bridge, and watched them for a while, pointing out their tail patches and wing patterns and bills. Santiago shared a quote with us: "I now belong to a higher cult of mortals, for I have seen the albatross."

I was lucky enough to spend the last full day of 2011 enjoying the swells instead of feeling sick from them. We are so near to our destination - we've passed the Antarctic convergence, a biological and physical barrier around the Southern Ocean and are around 58 degrees South. At the turn of the year, around midnight, we'll cross another border, the 60 degree latitude, which signifies entrance into Antarctic waters by political definition. Around this time tomorrow, we'll be well in sight of land. I can't imagine what that first step on ice will be like.


Pamela Stevenson
Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, Québec, Canada

Day 2 on the ship M/V Ushuaia. This morning 95% of the students were sea sick. I'm pretty lucky to be one of the 5% of students who were not sick. It is pretty tipsy here as the ship has been rocking back and forth all day. It's pretty weird to see the puke bags decorating the raillings throughout the ship.The bags were really helpful though for most of the sick students.

It has been a great way to end my year with friends that will never be forgotten and a new year to be filled with joy spent in the Drake Passage. Looking forward for tomorrow and arriving at Elephant Island.


Stephanie Shimabuku
Astoria, New York, USA

The begining of the Drake Passage was deadly. It was about three in the morning when the "drake shake" began , objects in my room was all over the place, cabinets opening and closing, things rolling back and forth and of course my body moving side to side constantly on my bed. It was very frightening. So far this day has been the worse out of my trip. I was very nauseous, ill, and weak. Also I saw the beautiful sun set which I loved. Hopefully tomorrow is a better day in the Drake Passage, I'm in need of my remedy. But Im looking forward for the rest of the trip and starting off the New Year in Antarctica. Happy New Year! To my family friends and KY - Be safe and enjoy the New Year!!


Garry Donaldson
Chelsea, Quebec, Canada

Today at lunch I watched the peaches they served us for lunch swim laps from one side of the bowl to the other in response to the constant rolling of our ship on the largish waves beneath us. Someone looking from above in my room last night might have observed a similar thing as I sloshed from one side of my bed to the other. The Drake has been true to form in giving us a bit of a ride as we sail from Tierra del Fuego towards Antarctica. I gave up on sleep at about 5am and have since spent as much time as I can out on deck watching the albatrosses, petrels and prions fly across the moderately angry ocean as if it were nothing. In fact, they seem to thrive on the wind and spray. What a great example of nature’s resilience they are and a humbling lesson for we landlubbing creatures that have spent the day challenged by some of the simplest tasks like walking in a straight line, trying to keep coffee securely in a mug or keeping toast on a plate while it seemed to be sneaking off trying to escape its ultimate fate. While I feel badly for the folks who are not feeling the greatest today, a part of me is glad that nature is showing us who is boss. The seabirds and other creatures are having a regular day and because we are not, I’m hoping that nature will continue to rule this part of the globe for many days, weeks, months, years and millennia to come.


Laurissa Christie
Tara, Ontario, Canada

What an adventure today has been! The boat has been rocking and many are feeling the effects of sailing the Drake Passage which seems to be more of a "Drake Shake" rather than a "Drake Lake." I could not imagine a more adventurous way to finish 2011. The sun has been shining for most of the day, and despite the rough waters, the weather is gorgeous. I have spent lots of time out on deck today. The waves pound with such intensity and the ship at times feels almost as if it may fall over. We are so close to Antarctica. I am anxious to take my first glimpse of the "white continent." Words cannot describe how thankful I am for this opportunity Students on Ice has given me. A big thank you to my parents, the Gingerpress, community, and all of my family, friends, and teachers who have supported me throughout this journey. I could never have done it without you. Happy New Year! I hope everyone has a great time tonight ringing in the New Year! Love you lots!


Leah Davidson

Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada

Crossing the Drake Passage is an unforgettable experience. Luckily, I find the swell reminiscent of my favourite amusement park rides, but others are not faring so well. As my fellow expeditioners cope with seasickness to varying degrees, I contemplate the importance of challenges in our lives. On this trip, we aspire to encounter seals, penguins, and whales up-close. Our destination is the beauty and majesty of the world’s coldest, windiest, and most isolated continent. If reaching Antarctica were easy, we would forfeit the sense of accomplishment that comes from braving rough seas. We might forget the power of the natural world-power to not only bring us joy, but to cause us pain. Without the fatigue and dizziness, I would not enjoy the excitement of trying (and failing) to keep my balance on board the rocking ship or the magic of standing outside and listening to the songs of the wind. Whether it is a job, an opportunity or a relationship, I suppose we must choose our dreams wisely, keep a positive attitude during the tests of endurance, and relish every minute of the rewards. Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone!


Morgan Clark
Newport, Rhode Island, USA

Happy New Year's Eve everyone! Our last day of 2011 was spent in pod meetings, three lectures, and for some (including me!), light napping to take the edge off. We are all fine, don't worry! Ginger candy has become my best friend though. I've been fortunate enough not to fell too ill. My tummy's been super queasy but I know that I don't have it as bad as the others who don't fully have their sea legs yet. In a twisted way, the motion of the ocean can be quite funny. When I attempt to walk I end up clawing at the air not moving no matter how I try to lift my feet. It's like I'm being controlled by an evil puppet of some sort!

This evening we will be celebrating the arrival of 2012 with some fun presentations/skits from all of the students. My pod will be doing a paradoy of Ke$ha's famous song "Tik Tok". The lyrics go a little something like this:

Wake up in the morning feeling like Francis Drake
Grab my lifevest out of the port, I'm gonna hit the shake
Before I leave get relief with a seasickness patch
Because when I leave Ushuaia, I ain't coming back

I'm talking about penguins at my toes, toes
Passing icy flow, flows

The whales are lining up because our ship has got swagger,
But Geoff is still our favorite because he's fly like McJagger!

I love and miss you Mom, Dad, Milana, Grandma, Aunt S., Uncle P., Uncle W. and Kathy and everyone else! I can't wait to see all of you! xoxo


On the bridge crossing the Drake

Getting some R&R on the long trip to Antarctica

Evening activities on board the ship

The hike to Laguna Esmeralda

Enjoying the sun and looking for birds out on the top observation deck!

Safety briefing


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Natural Heritage Building
1740 chemin Pink
Gatineau, QC J9J 3N7