Lindblad Cove & Bransfield Strait
After a quiet night traveling northward, the wind picked up and National Geographic Explorer made her way against strong winds into Charcot Bay. At the end of this bay, which has been named after the famous French explorer, we reached Lindblad Cove at 8:00am. This cove is surrounded by majestic snow-covered peaks and hanging glaciers, and received its name in honor of Lars-Eric Lindblad, the father Sven-Olof Lindblad. We stayed there for an hour, enjoying the beautiful scenery, but the strong winds did not allow us to conduct the Zodiac operation that was planned for the morning. We started our way across the Bransfield Strait towards the South Shetland Islands.
Shortly after lunch we reached Deception Island, and entered into the island (an old volcano caldera) through the magnificent small entrance called Neptune’s Bellows. The water inside the island was very calm, the sun was shining and the flat, black-sand beaches inspired many of our trip companions to go swimming. Explorer anchored close to the shore of Pendulum Cove, located at the northeastern side of Port Foster. The name of this cove relates to pendulum and magnetic observations made by the British expedition in 1829. One after the other, guests jumped into the water, experiencing “hands-on” the frigid waters of the Southern Ocean. A couple of chinstrap penguins were standing on the beach close to the swimming area surrounded by mist produced by the steam rising from the beach and probably wondering about our strange behavior. After an hour, we went back to the ship and Explorer started to make her way out of Deception Island, traveling to the north along Bailey’s Head. Shortly thereafter, a group of type-B killer whales passed rapidly close to the ship, traveling south and probably giving us a last goodbye.
After dinner, we reached Cape Shirreff on Livingston Island and picked up a National Geographic researcher who was working there as part of the Crittercam Project, studying leopard seals for the last month.
We then began our journey across the Drake Passage and that was the time to reflect on our journey. When we think about Antarctica, it becomes clear in our minds that Antarctica is not only a place; it is also a feeling, a way of perceiving nature. Only someone who has experienced the long sunsets, the endless skies, the vastness of the sea ice, the majesty of mountain peaks and hanging glaciers, the brightness of the ice, the sinuosity of channels and inlets, the tranquility of bays and coves, the delicate beauty of floating icebergs, and the rich diversity of marine fauna in Antarctica is aware of the effect that this region has on the human soul. Antarctica is like an eternal spirit and we are certain that we will not be the same after having being on the White Continent. Antarctica makes us think about how we relate to nature in general and the responsibility that we have to protect the ecosystems that keep us alive. This is the perfect place to commit ourselves to do our outmost to preserve our planet. It is time to leave now, but Antarctica will remain in our minds and hearts for years to come.