From the National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica
Jan 17, 2013 - National Geographic Explorer
Cape Horn and Beagle Channel
56 ̊ 22 S 67 ̊ 01 W
At six o’clock in the morning we had wind speed of 15 knots per hour from the northwest with showers and the temperature around 48 ̊ F. Our ship was pitching moderately with a steady course towards Cape Horn; our approach to the continental shelf is evidenced by increasing numbers of seabirds. The National Geographic Explorer was surrounded by lots of shearwaters, albatrosses and storm petrels.
At 7:30 this morning, Captain Kruess came to the bridge shouting “Dolphins riding the bow,” and we only had eight miles left to the Horn. Half an hour later our expedition leader, Lisa Kelley, announced the silhouette of the rugged cliffs of South America. Again our enthusiastic captain announced more dolphins approaching and surrounding the ship. The bridge was jammed with a great crowd of people taking pictures and enjoying our first view of land after our time at sea. Our staff member Eduardo read the touching poem of Sara Vial entitled “The Forgotten Soul of the Ancient Mariners” both in Spanish and in English.
The water became a bit rougher as we approached the Beagle Channel and then as we turned into the channel, we entered sheltered waters with protection provided by the wild landscape of Tierra del Fuego.
During the day we were pleased to hear many presentations from National Geographic photographers Sisse Brimberg and Cotton Coulson, who told us about being on assignment for the magazine. A bit later our staff member Justin Hofman told us about fisheries and the conservation issues in the southern ocean. Global perspective guest speaker Andy Clark talk about climate change in Antarctica and finally National Geographic Critter Cam researcher Greg Marshall showed us exciting and brand new footage of leopard seals hunting Antarctic fur seal pups.
Just after five in the evening, the Argentine pilot came aboard to guide us through the final stretch of the Beagle Channel. The last major event of the day was the captain’s farewell cocktail party and dinner. We docked just after dinner and there was a chance to go for an evening stroll in the charming port town of Ushuaia. A wonderful way to end our magical expedition to Antarctica!