Our voyage began in tumultuous seas, but by morning, the famed Drake Passage had calmed, settling into seas that rolled rather than rocking our hull. It is difficult to think of a more appropriate start than this. As we sail towards a land that at first glance seems harsh and unforgiving, but may reward adventurers with fortitude. Here now among the albatross and petrels, we find ourselves beyond the scope of civilization. What better place to be?
National Geographic Explorer
While Zodiac cruising around Cierva Cove today, we met a well-traveled whale. So well-traveled, in fact, that it has been spotted four times near three continents since 2007. How do we know this information? Thanks to a website called Happywhale.com that conglomerates whale photographs. Whales have tail fins, or flukes, that act as individual fingerprints thanks to each whale’s unique scars and color patterns. When all these fluke photos come together on Happywhale.com, the whales can be identified and tracked. After uploading a photograph taken in Cierva Cove today, we discovered that our whale’s ID number is PAN-1172. It was first spotted in Ecuador in 2007. Since then, it has been seen in Colombia, Panama, and, as of today, Antarctica. While viewing PAN-1172, we were visited by a group of “Vikings” delivering hot cocoa. Some weather set in that affected our afternoon plans. Nonetheless, we enjoyed motoring through the Graham Passage on National Geographic Explorer . During the later evening hours, we touched the mainland of continental Antarctica at Portal Point. Our previous landings were on Antarctic islands. We made a quick stop as we had ventured out after dinner to make the jaunt happen.