At sea to the Falkland Islands

Oct 26, 2017 - National Geographic Explorer


We still have land in sight this early morning. It is very pretty outside, slightly overcast, but lots of light and the seas are very calm as we head toward the Falkland Islands. Last night we left Ushuaia, Argentina and we are scheduled to make a landing at west Falkland tomorrow morning.

So, what does one do with a day at sea? Oh, plenty, like explore the ship. There’s the mudroom where boots can be stored and where we get on and off of the Zodiacs; the library, just forward of the observation lounge where a light lunch is often served; or the lounge where educational talks and drinks can be found.

Today in the lounge staff introductions and some lectures were often interrupted by the sighting of wildlife. Fin whales were spotted cruising, diving, and presumably feeding, along with many seabirds. Some were quite large like the black-browed albatross and some were quite pretty with bold markings like the cape petrel.

Much of the time large seabirds, like the albatross, are constantly in motion, soaring, swooping circling around.  They were faster than the ship and they flew slow circles around us, intrigued by our wake and excited by our bow wave. The big birds even seemed interested in us as we stood on the deck interested in them. They are most active when there is some wind, preferably a lot! 

Today there is not much wind at all, so the big birds flap around a bit, soar a little less, and often just sit on the water. I wonder how the birds feel about this lack of wind. I watched the black-browed albatross, they are the biggest birds out there now, and I could not tell if they were smiling, frowning, or even pouting…inscrutable!

Soon dinner was upon us but first we needed to get ready for the captain’s Welcome Aboard cocktail reception. After a few more talks and introductions we already felt as though the real adventure had begun. More whales could be seen ahead amidst the dancing seabirds.

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About the Author

Dennis Cornejo

Naturalist

Dennis began scuba diving during the mid-1970s as part of a research project. At the time he was a research associate at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona, studying the population of winter hibernating sea turtles.  What began as a scientific study soon became a conservation project that expanded to three species of sea turtles along the entire Pacific coast of Mexico.  This project received major funding from the World Wildlife Fund and was eventually taken over directly by that agency with Kim Clifton and Dennis Cornejo as co-principal investigators.

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