At Sea, Drake Passage

Jan 16, 2018 - National Geographic Orion

Well….It’s the beginning of the journey home, with all the mixed emotions which that brings.  We are looking forward to seeing friends and family again but leaving our new found feathery and blubbery Antarctic friends behind. 

A day of ease in the Drake Passage posed no difficulty for us ‘salty dogs’ and we were lulled by the long low swell of the Southern Ocean as we contemplated the amazing experiences of recent days. 

Wildlife watching from the bridge and after deck produced a steady supply of sightings, with blue petrel, Antarctic prion, and white-chinned petrel regular. Black-browed albatross were surprisingly thin on the ground, but a couple of immaculate grey-headed Albatross were new for the trip list, although sadly none lingered. A small and brief group of ‘Type-A’ killer whales were our third ecotype of this iconic species during this trip. Distant whale blows were not identified but teased us with possibility—the reason us naturalists love the Drake!  Black-bellied petrels belly-bounced on wave tops as Wilson’s Petrels danced elegantly behind.

A wonderful series of lectures entertained and educated, with topics from krill to climate-change and i-phone photo editing. Of course Captain Martin Graser’s ever popular talk on ice and ice navigation was well received and we look forward to the last day of adventure tomorrow as we approach the Patagonian coast and transit trough the Beagle Channel to Ushuaia.

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About the Author

Ciaran Cronin

Ciaran Cronin


Since developing an interest in wildlife as a young teenager Ciaran has devoted most of his waking hours (and many of his sleeping ones too!) to the study of nature, and has found many devious ways of marrying his love for wildlife with other aspects of his life. With postgraduate qualifications as an ecologist, he currently runs an ecological consultancy in Ireland, advising on incorporating wildlife protection into developments such as windfarms and national infrastructure projects. An ornithological and marine mammal specialist, he has a wide range of field skills as well as comprehensive knowledge of a wide range of other species groups. He has worked with both British and Irish government departments surveying seabirds and mammals, and he trains new surveyors in survey techniques and identification. Fortunate to have been able to immerse himself in the field, Ciaran loves to share this knowledge and enjoys engaging with people of all interest levels, on all things wild.

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