Sudden sunlight swept us from slumber, our somnambular sacrifices seemingly satisfactory to once again satiate the Sea’s Spirits, seeing as yesterday’s sumptuous skies and surreal sights had yet to subside as we sailed the southern shores of Staten Island.
We arrived just after breakfast in the protected rhyolite amphitheater of Canepa Bay. The sheer walls soared a thousand feet tall, towering over National Geographic Resolution in a scene reminiscent of so many Norwegian and Alaskan fjords visited by this very ship (and many onboard)! These walls are a “shore sign” of how the Ice Age and the glacial maximum of 15,000 years ago continue to rhyme all across the globe.
We spent the morning cruising on Zodiacs, exploring waterfalls pouring into the frigid channels lined with towering giant kelp forests and draped intertidally with leathery Durvillaea—the famed and delicious cochayuyo found in many a Patagonian ceviche. Imperial shags, giant petrels, and kelp geese flew overhead, while a merry band of Magellanic penguins made for some of our best looks at these most famed of flightless fowl so far—until this afternoon, that was!
Because after rewarming with tasty drinks and enjoying a delicious lunch, we set back out into our Zodiacs at Bahia Franklin to marvel at a large colony of rockhopper penguins, the smallest of the crested penguins. With an Andean condor providing adequate oversight, we spent the afternoon listening to the colony and marveling at their climbing prowess. And then! On one particularly salacious slope, some of us witnessed a bull South American sea lion slip out of the surf and snag a solitary penguin while the rest scooted up to safety. After a short struggle, the penguin was released by the sea lion, looking a little worse for the wear as it hobbled away, the sunny skies standing in stark contrast to the drama that had just unfolded in an instant.
Just like that, the weather turned, and we returned to the ship, humbled and contemplative in the moments before the undersea team presented from their dive the previous day. We sail now for Ushuaia and then to the Chilean fjords. Wandering albatrosses are at our bow, ready to soar off into a Patagonian adventure!