There are few places on the planet as spectacular as the Weddell Sea. Visiting this part of Antarctica is often synonymous with little sleep. Our adventures here began late last night, when we were lucky to spot a group of Type B killer whales. Their exhales were audible in the calm waters and the sky slowly turned red as the sun set behind tabular icebergs on the horizon. It wasn’t long before we were woken up by the sounds of the National Geographic Endurance navigating through sea ice early in the morning. All eyes were on the lookout enjoying the scenery as we made our way towards Snow Hill Island. Parking into the fast ice, we had the perfect setting for Naturalist Carl Erik Kilander to tell the story of Ernest Shackleton and the original Endurance. We rugged up to spend the morning in the sunshine walking on the fast ice, enjoying amazing views of the ship, toasting with champagne, and the company of curious Adelie penguins and snoozing crabeater seals. To make the day even more perfect, we were treated to an awesome burger-day BBQ lunch – a luxury Shackleton and his crew certainly never experienced while in this location – just before spotting an Emperor penguin on an ice floe. As we cruised north out of the Weddell Sea and Antarctic Sound in the evening we enjoyed our last views of tabular icebergs and the Antarctic continent, ready to continue on our journey in the Southern Ocean.
National Geographic Resolution
Any true voyage contains the element of return. As we approached South America, we reflected on our voyage thus far. Nearly three weeks ago, we cast our lines from Ushuaia and sailed towards the seventh continent. We saw corners of the world privy only to a few…truly special experiences that we will hold close for our lifetimes. Seabirds circled the ship, coming in and out of our wake to pay visits. These beautiful animals wander the ocean. They are at home at sea, an alien concept to us terrestrial animals. As the day progressed, the landscape began to unravel. Snowy peaks in the distance eventually gave way to a forested landscape, quite a shock as we had not seen proper trees in weeks! For our final wildlife encounter, we spent time with a group of killer whales. Our incredible ship and bridge team allowed close and personal views of these amazing animals. Aboard the ship, we hosted presentations with topics on photography and how to take observations from our voyage and share them with the scientific community. The hotel department pampered us with delicious treats. Our much-anticipated auction was a lively hit, raising money for our crew fund and conservation on South Georgia. In the afternoon, we met our pilots on the eastern edge of the Beagle Channel. Under their guidance, we will be dockside in a few hours, the same location we departed from three weeks ago. It feels like a lifetime has passed, bursting with countless memories. Memories we look forward to taking home with us and sharing with our loved ones and the world.