National Geographic Explorer covered the first part of a journey of about 800 miles from South Georgia to the Falkland Islands today. We followed the northern edge of the Scotia Sea toward the west. The winds were quite strong, and the swells of the Scotia Sea provided a rather bumpy ride.
The wind conditions proved perfect for watching pelagic seabirds in this part of the Southern Ocean. Throughout the day, we spent time on the bridge as well as the aft sundeck, recording a total of 14 species of seabirds. It was a great day for albatrosses, with about half a dozen wanderers following us at various points along the way. We also saw one royal albatross, one grey-headed albatross and many black-browed albatrosses.
During the morning, naturalist Phil Hunter gave an informative talk on the history of whaling, with an emphasis on South Georgia and the Southern Ocean. Overexploiting whale populations seems to be over, fortunately, and whale populations in most of the world´s oceans are gradually increasing.
After lunch, a presentation by Krista Rossow, National Geographic photographer, offered useful tips on “Chasing the light.” Just after tea time, naturalist Dennis Cornejo introduced us to the plant life of the Falklands Islands.
This was a great day to experience the birds, the weather and the power of swells in the Southern Ocean. A beautiful sunset rounded off our first day of sailing in the Scotia Sea.