Charlotte Bay, Antarctica

Nov 23, 2017 - National Geographic Orion

Epic is a word reserved for uniquely remarkable experiences, and will only just suffice to describe this day.

The morning began in Charlotte Bay when Captain Martin Graser confidently navigated the ship’s bow snugly into the fast ice. Once secure, the expedition team excitedly disembarked to survey the substrate. Proven strong, the guests were welcomed ashore for a variety of activities, ranging from cross country skiing to hiking along the fast ice, affording close encounters with Weddell seals and intimate appreciation for icebergs safely caught in the last winter’s sea ice pack.

Lunch couldn’t have been more delicious, boasting a Thanksgiving Day buffet for those onboard from the United States. The turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes were reminiscent of a comfortable place far from the Antarctic Peninsula. Post-lunch Zodiac cruises set out just as the kayak platform launched small boats for a more serene take on this beautiful bay. The sky was cerulean with fluffy clouds lining the horizon. The mountains rose prominently out of the sea to the sky, white-topped and breathtaking.

Once all watercraft returned to the National Geographic Orion, our Expedition Leader Doug Gould made the final decision to offer the polar plunge! The polar plunge is a long-time tradition among high latitude Lindblad Expeditions trips, where guests are invited to take a quick and exhilarating dip into the Southern Ocean. Full immersion in 28-degree water is a special and unforgettable experience. Ten seconds from toe touch to wrapping a towel around your confused body will teach a person more about instinct than most events in the human experience.

Anxious feet tap the bottom of the Zodiac as it drives to the jumping platform. The group chatters nervously, talking about running up to the hot tub afterwards or how they must be crazy. Once at the platform, Expedition Diver James promises to grab your arm and pull you in, and your brain attempts to process the frightening ephemera before you. Feet come alive and bring you to the Zodiac’s edge, you peer into the deep clear blue, and as the voices surround you cheer with the same nerve of moments before, you jump. The cold water first grabs you, then holds you. The brain says you need to swim UP! And you go, to meet James at the surface. The promised arm extends, lifts you back into your preferred atmosphere, and as the wave of cold leaves your body the warm blanket of adrenaline replaces it. A smile will emerge, stay plastered on your face, as you clumsily climb into the vessel which pushed you into this plunge in the first place.

As the plunge came to a great culmination, the most elusive of all Antarctic penguins appeared. The young Emperor climbed onto the fast ice just starboard of the ship as the last jumpers hit the water. Guests poured back onto the ice, cameras in hand. The promise of an evening show by the ship’s crew, absolutely chameleon in nature and talent, coerced them back in for an exciting evening of fun and play.

See? I told you it was epic.

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About the Author

Alyssa Adler

Undersea Specialist

As a young marine biologist, Alyssa Adler has had the opportunity to work as a diver in many capacities. For several years, she was a dedicated AAUS scientific diver for University of North Carolina on an offshore reef ecology project, and has participated in several of NOAA’s reef survey missions. She has been diving with National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions as an underwater videographer and ocean educator since 2014 and has fostered a love for the poles and extreme cold-water diving, spending most of her time underwater in sub-freezing temperatures.

About the Videographer

Brian Christiansen

Brian Christiansen

Video Chronicler

Brian is an adventure seeker traveling the planet in search of deeper connections with our world's complex ecology.  Brought up in Utah, home to some of the most dramatic margins a coastal desert can offer so far inland, his appreciation for protecting our precious places runs deep. He holds a degree in motion picture, video and theatre arts from Montana State University, a school dedicated to broadening students' horizons by allowing them to explore curriculums well outside their major.

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