Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Day on Tristan da Cunha

Agulhas II off the coast, with the volcano rising in the center, and St. Mary's School (for kids age 3-16) on the right.

The weather was nice today as the ship approached the island of Tristan de Cunha. Passengers were offloaded by helicopter, and then there was time for us scientists to take a trip over as well, being ferried back and forth by the ship's small boat. Tristan is the most remote inhabited island on the planet, 1,500 miles from South Africa and 2,100 miles from Brazil. There's only 260 residents, many of whom are descendant from the same 15 settlers. Even the dogs we saw seem to be from the same family. There's no hotels, but we were able to get our passports stamped and send postcards (which will come back to South Africa on our ship in a few weeks). I recommend reading the Wikipedia entry, it's fascinating. It was quite a treat to get to step on land and see such a unique place. My roommate Caitlin, a scientist studying microplastics, and I walked through town and then out to the lava fields (there was an eruption in 1961) and then to a rocky beach. We saw skuas and albatross by the dozen. I wish we'd had a geologist with us, the rock formations are gorgeous. We had a few hours to explore, and it really did feel like being an explorer as I reckon only a few thousand people have ever been to this place. It was an experience I'll never forget.

Past the lava fields is a rocky beach, with Tristan skuas flying in the breeze.

As we returned to the ship, a Tristan albatross (once thought to be a subspecies of wandering albatross) flew overhead. 

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