Karukinka and Ainsworth Bay

Oct 19, 2017 - National Geographic Explorer

As the new day’s first rays of light broke through we enjoyed our navigation down Admiralty Bay, a huge fjord that heads from west to east, biting deep into the big island of Tierra del Fuego. There were seabirds to watch along the way, and the wind conditions were minimal, which was good news for the morning plans. When the wind is strong, it funnels straight down the fjord and buffets the shorelines of María and Jackson Bays. Today we hoped to land in Jackson Bay, part of the Karukinka Reserve, which is administered by WCS (the Wildlife Conservation Society).

Soon after breakfast we headed for our landing spot and once we deposited our lifejackets, we took great care how we headed off on the various walks because there were a number of southern elephant seals right next to us. These giants were so ugly they were beautiful. They were right in the middle of their breeding season and we encountered weaned pups as well as pups busily fattening up on their mother’s rich milk. Of course there were also the large males who entertained us with their grunts, puffs, and guttural roars.

The weather was fantastic and not only did we have a great time with the seals we were able to enjoy a number of birds and plants.

During the afternoon we headed for Ainsworth Bay a short distance west from our morning landing, and enjoyed a beautiful walk through the southern beech forest to an extended overhanging boulder formation deep in shadow and covered in verdant mosses dripping excess moisture into a quiet pool. In this natural Japanese garden, one can drink in the peace this intimate place imparts to each of us. A little further on we headed out of the forest and along a small river to the coastline where we were able to watch a number of birds busily feeding on the intertidal area.

As we broke free from the forest and a short way upriver we found beaver activity in the shape of dams and a lodge; a reminder of the damage that exotic species can cause.

It was a really great day, and as we all chatted at Recap and dinner we gave thanks for the great weather that we continue to enjoy on our Patagonian adventure.

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About the Author

Edward Shaw


Edward Shaw has travelled widely as a naturalist and guide. For the past 29 years he has lived with his family in northwestern Patagonia, initially working as a teacher and subsequently working in community projects before returning to expedition ships. Edward is deeply committed to the principles behind sustainable development. He is happily married and the father of five children.

About the Photographer

Drew Rush

National Geographic Photographer

Drew Rush is a wildlife and natural history photographer with a passion for following wildlife in national parks around the world. Before embarking on a career in photography, Drew spent ten years guiding on the Snake River and taking people into the heart of Yellowstone National Park in the winter. Since he transitioned into a professional photographer, his work has appeared in numerous international publications and books, such as National Parks magazine and National Geographic: Complete Photography. Drew has a long history of working in and teaching about the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and Grand Tetons region on several long-term photographic projects for National Geographic magazine. He has also worked on collaborative projects studying long distance lynx migration through Alaska with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as monitoring wolf populations with the U.S. National Park Service.

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