On our last day of expedition around Antarctica, we arrived at the South Orkney Islands. In 1821, the islands were discovered by two sealers, Nathaniel Brown Palmer and George Powell. The islands are located at roughly the same latitude south as the Orkney Islands are north (60°S vs 59°N). It is unknown if this was a factor in the naming of the islands. This Southern Ocean archipelago is claimed by Argentina and Britain, and they both maintain bases on the islands. The Argentine Base is on Laurie Island, and the British Base is on Signy.
In the early morning, National Geographic Resolution stopped in front of the archipelago, and we geared up for a Zodiac cruise along Sandefjord Bay. And what an amazing ride! We started with a beautiful sighting of the island’s vast chinstrap colony. We observed an incredible number of birds in the air and water, including giant petrels, Wilson’s storm petrels, and Cape petrels. We soon understood why. We were surprised when a couple of very curious leopard seals popped up around the Zodiacs, and the birds were having a feast with the penguin carcasses left behind by the leopard seals.
After returning from the Zodiac cruise, we started sailing and soon encountered a massive aggregation of fin whales including a few humpbacks. We slowed down to enjoy the show. After delicious sushi at teatime, Andreas offered a superb and unique presentation about glaciers.
Now it is time to head up north and then east to see what the magnificent South Georgia Islands have to offer on this amazing journey in the Beagle Channel.