Sooty shearwaters again this morning. Their rafts stretch for miles into a misty horizon. Hardly a breath of wind ripples the olive water. Lista Light skewers the hordes. The sound of pattering webbed feet as they scramble to take flight from their moving air field. Saltwater beads cascade in their wake. Their slim wings almost shear through the surface of the sea as they slice into the air. The air’s ripe with water. Sounds carry thick in its soup.
Magellanic penguins bray themselves hoarse as we skim passed another floating wooded island, another island plump with penguin amour, as they nuzzle near their tree root burrows.
A Magellanic diving- petrel scrambles below the water at the sight of us. He bobs up again. A quick peak, then pokes his head below and then up again. Indecision plagues him. Suddenly confident he dives deeper. A stream of bubbles marks his retreat. But he’s soon up again and with a jump he’s air born. Wings blurring as he paddles furiously centimetres above the surface of the water. A mini tornedo.
This wildlife, dense in the heavy air, would be transformed by one animal. One animal, whose family sustains the largest living animal on earth, yet whose presence can slip unnoticed. But on a day like this, when a flick of a feather sends shock waves for metres, we have a chance.
A steely grey mound rolls lethargically in the distance. A large sickle fin. An oily slick. A diffuse blow. A sei whale? Gradually he recedes further into the milky horizon, lost forever.