We made landfall at 4am in Mar del Plata, at the top end of Argentina. Mar del Plata is a city with a population of about half a million, and it is the Brighton of Argentina. The beach here is apparently sometimes so busy in the summer months that it is standing room only…even in the water!! We only have one day to enjoy here before we get going again, as we still have a lot of mileage to cover. It is not quite summer yet in the south, and the crew have been feeling the increasing latitudes. Especially at night it gets quite chilly, and hats, gloves and buffalo jackets have all started making appearances. After weeks of moaning about the heat, the conversation has taken a very slight turn, which makes us wonder how we will survive in Antarctica.
The wildlife is looking very much southern as well now. Rio de la Plata (the River of Silver), just north of Mar del Plata, washes a lot of nutrients into the sea causing the growth of plankton and algae in the sea making it look quite green. These small organisms form the basis of the food chain and so we have been absolutely surrounded by wildlife the last few days. After seeing what might have been our last turtle for a while just two days ago, we are now seeing lots of dolphins (short beaked common dolphins and dusky dolphins) and some seals too (southern sea lions). We are now constantly accompanied by albatrosses, cape petrels, antarctic terns and PENGUINS!!! All unmistakably birds of the south. We regularly see the magellanic penguins sitting on top of the the water looking slightly confused by our presence.
We are just now smartening ourselves up to head off to Argentine customs, so I’ve kept this blog pretty brief. More later (including photos!!)
Much love from the crew to all back home