We awoke to a windy day on the Southern Ocean on our way to the Weddell Sea. Stefano gave us a wakeup call with our educational program for the day, and then we started heading down to breakfast.
After a delicious breakfast, some of us took to the decks to watch the wonderful tabular icebergs we were passing. At 9:15 am, we were invited into the Ice Lounge to see naturalist Jamie Coleman’s lecture on Antarctic seals. We learned to identify the different seals we are likely to see in the Antarctic.
After the lecture, we returned to the decks and observation areas. More and more birds have joined us throughout the day as we push south, including snow petrels. At 11:00 am, naturalist John Pachuta shared his lecture, “An Introduction to Glaciers.” He taught us all sorts of interesting things about glaciers and how they function.
Lunch was next on the agenda, and we all enjoyed our meal with wonderful views of the huge ice passing by on both sides of the ship. We had some free time in the afternoon, so many of us returned to birdwatching or relaxing in various spaces on National Geographic Endurance. We got closer to the peninsula as more and more ice closed in around us. By early afternoon, we had the first glimpses of our destination: Snow Hill Island. At 5:00 pm, we were invited to our final lecture of the day with Conor Ryan, entitled, “Smell of the Sea: How animals use smell to find food.”
As we prepared to head up to cocktail hour, we heard an announcement over the PA that we would soon be entering the pack ice ahead of schedule. We put on our parkas and headed up to the decks. We watched in wonder as National Geographic Endurance entered the pack ice, and we got to see her fine work with ice for the first time. But the surprises weren’t over! A few minutes later, we were treated to a spectacular sight: a lone emperor penguin surrounded by a small group of Adelies. We snuck up gently and were able to observe the penguin for some time as it relaxed on the pack ice before quietly slipping into the ocean. It was an incredible sighting! With that, we were invited to cocktail hour and recap before we sat down for a wonderful dinner. All in all, today was a wonderful day aboard National Geographic Endurance!