Today was the first full day of our voyage, and we made good progress through the Drake Passage towards “The White Continent.” For most of us, the expedition began several days ago when we journeyed across broad distances to gather in Santiago de Chile. We had a brief respite (very brief for some) prior to boarding the charter flight to Ushuaia, Argentina, the self-proclaimed end of the earth and certainly the southernmost city on the globe. We enjoyed a chance for short excursions in Santiago and Ushuaia. We could feel the transition from weeks and even months of planning to the actualization of our embarkation aboard National Geographic Resolution last night as we made our departure from the South American continent through the Beagle Channel and towards the wild Southern Ocean.
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.