Northern Drake Passage

Jan 18, 2018 - National Geographic Explorer


Arriving in Ushuaia at the southern end of Argentina we enjoyed an afternoon ride in the Beagle Channel and ending to the dock where we then boarded the National Geographic Explorer.  On the ship, we were welcomed by all of the crew, officers, and staff.  There was then time to explorer the ship and to settle in to our respective cabins.  A safety drill ensued and then we were introduced to the ship and to the general voyage that was ahead.  Leaving the dock we then knew that the adventure had begun.  Many went to bed soon after our first dinner on the ship as it had been a long few days of travel.

During the night we did enter the Drake Passage and the course of the ship was set southward toward the Antarctic.  However, we were quite lucky with the sea conditions as there was a moderate wind from the northwest pushing us along and just a gentle rolling of the ship. The majority of people rested until the first wake-up announcement and breakfast was well attended.

However, the day at sea allowed for a number of presentations. First was an introduction to the people onboard who would be resources for learning about the experiences that we would share. The naturalist staff, photo instructors, and Global Perspective Speaker would make this more than just a trip on a ship, it would be and education and an eye opener to the wonders of the Antarctic.

Next we learned about the evolution and adaptations of the seabirds that wander the Southern Ocean.  Many people had already spent time on deck or on the Bridge getting their first looks and photos of the birds encountered as we progressed southward.

In the afternoon there was an opportunity to learn more about photography and how to use some of the brand new digital cameras people had brought to capture their experience for future recalling of memories.  At the end of the afternoon we were informed about the restrictions and regulations that are followed by everyone visiting Antarctica.  These procedures are critical for visiting the area to minimize the effects of our presence on the landscape and the wildlife.  Decontamination then followed meaning any equipment that had been previously used outside was scrubbed or vacuumed so eliminate the possibility introducing anything to this environment that was not here originally.

Following a wonderfully prepared and delicious evening meal many people again rested to be prepared for the days ahead that promised to be busy and exciting.

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About the Author

Bud Lehnhausen

Naturalist

Bud received an undergraduate degree in wildlife biology at Colorado State University. He then immediately went to Alaska where he worked and lived for 30 years. At the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Bud studied wildlife biology and received a master's degree conducting research on four species of alcid seabird nesting on a remote island in the Gulf of Alaska.

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