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 Endurance
National Geographic Endurance set sail from the western edge of the Falkland Islands late last evening, and we enjoyed a relaxing day at sea. Guests were treated to smooth seas with plenty of albatrosses soaring about the vessel. The morning was full of educational opportunities. The undersea team shared photos collected while exploring the diverse underwater environments that the Falkland Islands provide. Next came a presentation by marine biologist Connor Ryan who spoke about the dynamics of how plankton and seabirds dictate the ecological rhythms of the upper layer of the ocean. Such a trip as we have had is certainly hard to summarize. Over the past three weeks, we visited some of the most spectacular and densely populated wildlife regions on our planet. Today was a day of reflection, photo editing, fine food, and contemplation of all that has occurred.