The wildlife highlight of the last days was the sighting of my first penguin (see picture).
I had seen penguins before, sitting on icebergs in the distance, but with cheap cameras (like mine) these penguins only show up as black dots on a white berg. This penguin however was different. He was swimming very close by the ship, and thanks to an announcement of the captain, everybody who was awake got a chance to run outside and see it. The little guy was swimming up and down the side the ship, giving us a proper show – very cute!
Scientifically we are making great progress. We are still on our first site, drilling deeper and deeper into the ocean floor. We passed today the depth of 700 meter below the seafloor. Our target for this drill site is to get all the way down to the Eocene-Oligocene boundary, which happened some 33 million years ago. This was when ice first covered the entire Antarctic continent. Before than there was a so-called greenhouse world with lots of vegetation on the continent and very warm temperatures in the ocean around Antarctica. If we are lucky we may see this transition tomorrow in >800 m below the seafloor.
But since nobody has drilled that deep in this location we just won’t know until we get there. Things are going very well and we have been recovering some amazing core material. Everybody is very excited and in a good mood.