At the end of a very mellow crossing of the Drake Passage, the sun made an appearance as we passed by the South Shetland Islands early this morning. A number of fin whale blows caught our attention, and conditions on deck while watching the whales through binoculars were positively balmy. After lunch, we made a continental landing at Brown Bluff, home to about 18,000 pairs of Adelie penguins and 800 pairs of gentoo penguins during the nesting season. As a first introduction to Antarctica, it was the perfect spot for guests to delight in the sounds…and smells…of these uniquely Antarctic birds.
National Geographic Endurance
National Geographic Endurance set sail from the western edge of the Falkland Islands late last evening, and we enjoyed a relaxing day at sea. Guests were treated to smooth seas with plenty of albatrosses soaring about the vessel. The morning was full of educational opportunities. The undersea team shared photos collected while exploring the diverse underwater environments that the Falkland Islands provide. Next came a presentation by marine biologist Connor Ryan who spoke about the dynamics of how plankton and seabirds dictate the ecological rhythms of the upper layer of the ocean. Such a trip as we have had is certainly hard to summarize. Over the past three weeks, we visited some of the most spectacular and densely populated wildlife regions on our planet. Today was a day of reflection, photo editing, fine food, and contemplation of all that has occurred.