In my opinion, today was our first real “expedition” day of this voyage. The kind of day where you wake up, and immediately tear up the Daily Program – otherwise known as “Plan A” – and quickly move onto Plan B, C or D, as only the magic of Antarctica can dictate best. During breakfast, we made our way towards the Antarctic Circle. We soon found ourselves surrounded by a stunning expanse of sea ice as far as the eye could see. We took this opportunity to enjoy the capabilities of the amazing vessel that is National Geographic Endurance and explore the wildlife that calls this incredible place home. Moving quietly through the ice, we enjoyed views of countless seals scattered around us atop the floes. We thought we were lucky to see all three of the most common Antarctic pinnipeds – the crabeater seal, Weddell seal, and leopard seal – until we realized that one dark shape on the ice was not like the others. Could it be? Emperor penguins! Thanks to the expertise of the bridge team, we were able to manoeuvre through the dense pack ice to get a closer look. As if the morning couldn’t get any better, we celebrated our crossing of the Antarctic Circle at 1100 with champagne in hand, a special treat thanks to our amazing hotel team!
Throughout the day, we also enjoyed presentations by our guest speaker Bob Binshadler and National Geographic Photographer Ralph Lee Hopkins, as well as a live microscope demonstration of zooplankton by on-board scientist Michelle Jackson. To round out our day, we were fortunate to watch several humpback whales feeding in the calm waters. As we finished another wonderful dinner, we continued to sail south with more whales around the ship, waiting for a sunset that will never come and excited about what we’ll find tomorrow.