Brown Bluff & Antarctic Sound

Nov 21, 2017 - National Geographic Explorer


This morning I did not rise with the sun. Not my fault, we have been traveling southward for the last few days and the sun is rising earlier and earlier, so I had shut my portal. Rocking seas or the sound of ice scraping against the hull did not awake me. It is calm and fairly ice-free. No, what woke me up was the voice of Doug, our expedition leader, announcing breakfast, but that did not surprise me, rather it was our location, Brown Bluff, that brought a smile to my face.

I knew that the captain and Doug wanted to come here, but someone else had reserved Brown Bluff for this morning. So, when I went to bed there was a different plan. Then, in the wee hours of the morning, it was discovered that the other ship was nowhere nearby, but we were!

So, this morning we visited Brown Bluff, home to colonies of Adélie and gentoo penguins. Massive, brown cliffs of volcanic origin tower over the beach. Well, there is not a beach right now, it is high tide and above the water there is snow and some ice. Good news for me this morning, as I’m driving a Zodiac and I will not need to ding a prop on a submerged rock, there are plenty of rocks here, but they are deep now.

Brown Bluff is also an “official” continental landing. It is not an island. For many people, it is their seventh continent.  Actually, it could be their eighth continent since current research indicates that New Zealand and New Caledonia are the only above-water parts of the continent of Zealandia… search for that name on the interweb, great fun.

After our morning landing at Brown Bluff we spent the afternoon crashing through ice and admiring the large icebergs in Antarctic Sound, a great finish to this very fine Antarctic day.

It was cold this morning, as it should be, it is Antarctica! Everyone seemed a bit bubbly. It has only been about 200 years since names were given to any part of Antarctica. The United States of America was already a country before anyone had even seen Antarctica!

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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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