And so our journey begins! No trip to Antarctica is complete without experiencing the famous Drake Passage. Today, our crossing began with lumpy seas and grey skies. Our morning involved meeting the Expedition Staff and learning about expedition photography while watching as a smorgasbord of tubenose bird species effortlessly cruised by in the winds. As the day went on, we enjoyed the sea, as well as presentations about seabirds of the Southern Ocean and stories from Tommy Heinrich, National Geographic photographer. By dinner, the skies cleared, allowing us to enjoy a lovely sunset with seabirds and whale blows catching the golden light over what had become a “Drake Lake.” We were extremely lucky to have sea conditions like this, and we went to sleep hoping our luck would continue as we explore the White Continent!
National Geographic Resolution
The sun came out by 07:00 this morning and stayed with us all the way into Ushuaia. In the morning, we had two presentations. One covered the South Pole, and the other was on the early Antarctic explorers. After lunch, we had a wonderful display by sei whales in the Beagle Channel. Shortly after, our two divers demonstrated the underwater ROV and the cold-water dive equipment. In the evening, we attended the Captain’s Farewell in the Ice Lounge and auctioned the trip flag. The Beagle Channel was named for the HMS Beagle . The channel is south of the Strait of Magellan, and it is the last cut off for ships rounding South America to avoid the Drake Passage. It was named during the first voyage of the HMS Beagle around 1827. It was on the second voyage of the HMS Beagle that a naturalist named Charles Darwin was brought along. Darwin and the HMS Beagle spent months in the channel. In addition to his observations in the Galapagos, many of Darwin’s observations in this area led to his Theory of Evolution. The HMS Beagle was sent with 22 chronometers to fine tune the latitude of critical points around the world. Captain Robert Fitzroy was not funded by the British Navy to have a naturalist aboard, but he hired Darwin with his own money because he felt it was important. That decision was critical in how we now look at the natural world around us.