From the National Geographic Explorer at Sea
Nov 19, 2012 - National Geographic Explorer
Sailing the Scotia Sea
After four amazing days in South Georgia discovering many of the sights that the island had to offer, it was time to continue on our journey to the Antarctic Peninsula. The seas were merciful to our ship and to us as we cleared the lee of South Georgia’s’ Cooper Island and made our way to the southwest. This would be our longest open water transit of the voyage. The winds were light, the skies grey and the temperatures cold as National Geographic Explorer plied the waters towards the South Orkney Islands which seem to spill off the Antarctic Continent like splinters from a bent and broken piece of wood.
The south Atlantic seabirds took an interest in our ship as we made use of the good weather and pressed the engines for more speed. The seabirds make their living by the wind in one of the windiest places on earth. Without the wind they can’t make their way to the constantly moving productive feeding grounds that surround the Antarctic Continent. The ship creates an additional front of air which the birds use to travel with us down to the southern latitudes. One of the smaller but also picturesque birds is the Pintado, or Cape petrel. This member of the tube nose group can smell the presence of microscopic creatures that are underwater from miles away while flying, feats of which even a bloodhound would be envious. It is impressive to think of such a small creature, not even a foot-and-a-half long, living all of its life in a harsh environment that we will only visit for a few days.