This evening, we found ourselves at 60 degrees south, crossing the internationally recognized geographic boundary into the Southern Ocean and the waters that define the Antarctic continent. Aside from lines on a nautical chart, this transition is marked by the presence of the largest, most traveled, and “longest lived” seabirds on the planet. These birds glide along the edges of the air masses that hover above the fringes of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. Beyond the birds hangs a thick fog. Cold air above near-freezing Antarctic waters condenses as it meets warmer Atlantic and Pacific waters along the strong sea surface temperature gradient known as the Antarctic Convergence zone. We have spent the day orienting ourselves to the vessel and getting to know our expedition team and fellow travelers. We have also learned from expedition staff about how to make the most of our journey–from photography tips presented by onboard Certified Photo Instructors and a visiting National Geographic photographer to seabird spotting and identification guidance from naturalists. Embarking on the last voyage that National Geographic Resolution will take in 2022 is also cause for reflection on what the past year has meant for Antarctica and for each other. It is with great enthusiasm that we ring in the New Year with a Captain’s welcome party, complete with sea shanties and festive attire as we look forward to learning more together and appreciating the moments we will share on this epic adventure to explore the wildest place on Earth!
National Geographic Resolution
The passengers and crew of National Geographic Resolution started their day surrounded by stunning scenery just south of the Lemaire Channel. We were very close to the Ukraine Research Station, Vernadsky. As we sailed on steadily, passengers were treated to a lecture about snow algae and its effect on the snow and ice of Antarctica by Alia Kahn, our visiting scientist. A short while later, Jim Coyer offered some very interesting insights into krill, which is literally the foundation of the Antarctic life cycle. After lunch, we arrived at Prospect Point at the southern end of the Penola Strait. Zodiacs were lowered, and guests were treated to a wonderfully serene, peaceful cruise amongst ice floes and huge icebergs of various shapes. The sheer majesty of the scenery of the Antarctic Peninsula rarely fails to move us and engage all our senses. Back on board, undersea specialist and naturalist Tanish Peelgrane provided guests with the opportunity to show off their artistic talents with watercolors. This yielded many wonderful interpretations of the afternoon’s experiences. As one more exceptional day draws to an end, we look forward to seeing what delights tomorrow brings.