The Drake Passage

Jan 08, 2018 - National Geographic Explorer

Our first full day at sea put us more than halfway across the Drake Passage towards the Antarctic Peninsula region, sailing under relatively mild sea conditions, with moderately warm, but rainy, weather.  The day started with a diverse, active group of seabirds around the ship.  A full day of activities continued with introductions of the expedition staff, presentations, and preparations for our arrival at the South Shetland Islands tomorrow.

Although the Drake Passage is named for Sir Francis Drake to honor his explorations 200 years prior, it was the second voyage of James Cook in the 1770s that circumnavigated the Southern Ocean, and thus finally disproved the existence of the purported temperate continent Terra Australis.   Due to the conditions he found here however, Cook sagely hypothesized the existence of Antarctica, stating “…there is a tract of land near the Pole, which is the source of most of the ice which is spread over this vast Southern Ocean.”  Indeed, we saw ice in the form of small bergs before the day was over.

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About the Author

Robert Edwards


Growing up in the Appalachian foothills of the Garden State, Rob instinctively knew it made a lot more sense to head over the hill into the fields, forests, lakes, and streams behind his house, rather than down the road to the shopping mall in front of it. The natural world piqued the inherent curiosity in all of us and set his life course based on these questions: how does the world work, and how do we as humans fit into it?  

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