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>Winds 16 knots
>Temp 15 C ; w/ wind chill 8 C
>Location: Latitude 52 degrees 24.63’ S; Longitude 68 degrees 52.45 W

Above: An albatross follows the ship which entered the Straits of Magellan on its way to port on Dec. 21.
Below: A small iceberg floated past the ship in Paradise Bay.
Click on each image for larger view.

21 December 2004

We are within site of the Straits of Magellan. A pilot will soon come aboard to guide us through the narrow passages of this waterway that will lead the LMG to the dock at Punta Arenas. We have come full circle from "civilization" to a delightful isolation and finally a return to civilization.

The first sign of human occupancy of this remote region is the drilling platforms visible as one enters the Straits. The number of birds hovering around the ship (no doubt waiting for fish to fall overboard) has increased. The slower ship speed through the Straits will allow attempts of photography with a telephoto lens. The water has turned green as does shallow water overlying the continental shelf in most parts of the world — a welcome site, but with a longing for the deep blue of deep water.

Aboard ship, every item is boxed and ready to be sent; our personal effects are packed; and we’re all set for some last minute Christmas shopping in Punta Arenas. Without doubt, this cruise has been a scientific success. We (Drs. Balser and Jaeckle) are weary, but have enjoyed this grand adventure. We have made new friends, seen new animals, and completed new experiments in areas whose beauty will never be adequately be captured by any remote visual or verbal means.

We are lucky to have had this opportunity. Despite rumors that we would not be able to keep pterobranchs alive, we have living cultures of adults and larvae — and will tempt the odds and try to bring them back alive to Illinois. Without question, our greatest challenge will be trying to explain to the customs agents in Miami what these creatures are and convincing them that they pose no threat to national security.


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