Our day began as we approached Elephant Island. In this dramatic landscape of towering cliffs and glaciers, the crew of Shackleton’s Endurance spent five winter months in a makeshift hut created from canvas and the overturned hulls of two lifeboats. Coincidentally, today is also Shackleton’s birthday!
Our exploration began with a Zodiac cruise around the southernmost point of Elephant Island– Cape Lookout. Here we saw southern elephant seals, Antarctic fur seals, chinstrap penguins and of special note, macaroni penguins. Macaroni and chinstrap penguins are often found on very exposed and wave-swept coasts, which this island has in abundance!
We continued our travels around to the north coast of the island, and our bridge team brought us into the bay by Point Wild. Here, the crew of the Endurance overwintered and Shackleton and five others set off for South Georgia, 800 nautical miles away. We saw the monument erected by Chile in honor of Luis Pardo, the captain of the Yelcho–the ship that rescued the crew in August of 1916. Here we could also see how the glacier has receded by a quarter of a mile in the century since the Endurance crew was marooned on the point.
After visiting this historic site, we began our journey back across the Drake Passage.