Susan Adie: A Treasured Moment in Paradise Bay, Antarctica
We are at anchor in a place called Paradise Bay. When I wake up, there is no movement in the ship and such a feeling of calm and seclusion that I quickly dress and sneak out of my cabin so as to not wake my roommate. In the bridge, the officer on watch is quietly working at the computer. But, my interest lays outside. I grab a cup of coffee and head out on deck. The view outside is beyond any i can see anywhere else on earth. I have seen it before—and with any luck, I will see it again—as this is my office.
It is my privilege as the Expedition Leader to work with the Captain and the entire team of the MS Expedition to organize our guests’ day. But, before I have to start, I take a few moments to myself.
Surrounding me are the glaring white glacial covered mountains of the Antarctic Continent. The calm sea is full of small icebergs--bergy bits drifting in the current. In the distance, I can hear Gentoo penguins calling. I’m leaning on the rail, sipping hot coffee and enjoying the peace and quiet, when all of a sudden I hear a whale exhale. Not far from the ship a huge humpback whale is resting on the surface. The moisture of the exhalation is huge and lingers in the morning air above the broad glistening back of the whale. But, the surprises are not over yet! Directly beside this behemoth comes another shorter faster blow and another back rises. A calf! It is a mother and calf resting here in Paradise with us! My first instinct is to shout and spread the news. But, it is morning and no one else is awake or out on deck—or at least not within view of me—and it becomes my personal moment.
I relax into my coffee and silence. I cannot help but feel privileged. Nowhere else on earth is this view available and here i am—it is right in front of me! A mother and calf humpback whale, nearly hunted to extinction, and simple resting in front of me!
My work ethic kicks in and I decide I must spread the word. Inside, I find a few folks lingering near the coffee pot and I send them out on deck to enjoy a morning in this icy paradise. We lean on the ship’s railing together, silently sipping coffee. I can only imagine what their feelings are; but in the quiet, I know there is a reverence for this wildness. And, as Henry David Thoreau said, "In wildness is preservation of the soul."
As our morning starts, Zodiacs are launched into the water, and we steer clear of the cow calf pair. And, the whales stayed within sight of us the entire morning! Everyone watched various vantage points—from the ship, from the shore, or from the Zodiacs…We all soaked in the wildness of Paradise Bay, Antarctica.
- Susan Adie, Expedition Leader