Jan 10, 2018 - National Geographic Orion
As we awoke to another morning in a rolling Drake Passage, seabirds continued to swoop in and out of the immense fog. To help familiarize guests with identification, Naturalist Ciaran Cronin gave an informative presentation about the Seabirds of Antarctica, including a few that we had seen already from the Beagle Channel too.
The B&H photo locker was opened up and a few rushed to check out some of the first class binoculars available, amongst the other photography gear, just before our photo team had a lesson on utilizing the full capabilities of the iPhone.
Finally, around midday, Antarctica began to peak its jagged cliffs out of the water and fog! A spot of sunshine illuminated nearby glaciers and the weather let us take in a few glimpses before more clouds came rolling in.
In the afternoon, we headed out on our first official landing at Half Moon Island! Porpoising penguins led the way ashore to a colony of chinstraps, a beached Norwegian boat, and a few gentoo penguins too. Some healthy looking chicks were being fed mouthfuls of delicious, nutrient-packed, regurgitated krill bits. Despite a few particularly dirty birds, it was impossible to deny how adorable the parents with their chicks was to watch. Giant petrels, snowy sheathbills, and kelp gulls soared in the sky as we got a true taste for Antarctica today.
The dive team went for a frigid dip along the horse-shoed arc of the island and brought back some footage of animals seemingly from science fiction. Life is flourishing both above and below the water’s surface here on the Western Antarctic Peninsula.
To cap off a great first day here, feeding humpback whales put on an exciting evening display, lunging and showing off their massive flukes.