Feb 12, 2018 - National Geographic Explorer
In a world dictated by the movements of ice, fog is a rare occurrence here in Antarctica. Despite the odds, our morning was laced with a low, white pulse of water vapor that obscured, and revealed, the landscape in equal measure. By Zodiac and kayak we explored the tiny penguin-covered archipelago known as the Yalours, placed square in the center of the Grandidier Channel. As such, this island group is in the path of not only nutrient-rich currents, but every shape and size of iceberg one could dream up, offering an endless variety of photo opportunities.
While kayakers hugged the coastline, the Zodiacs took to open water in search of the multitude of ice sculptures. In addition to a world of blue and white, angular and smooth, these icebergs also draw in wildlife. Dozens of crabeater seals surfaced in close proximity to the largest pieces, seemingly drawn, like us, to their beauty and sheer scale.
Closer to shore we found various créches (youthful gatherings) of juvenile Adélie penguins perched atop the highest point of each island. Down to nothing but a tiny puff of downy feathers on their heads these birds were mere days away from entering the water for the first time in their two months of existence.
From the calm waters and wildlife of the Grandidier Channel the National Geographic Explorer spent the afternoon transiting the seven miles of narrow beauty known as the Lemaire Channel before setting a course for the South Shetland Islands. En route, and with just enough light to reveal their patterning, a pod of type B (Gerlache Strait) killer whales interrupted our northbound progress in the very waters that bare their name. Accompanied by numerous Antarctic fur seals, our evening drew to a close in the company of two species sharing the same waterway, similar interest in food preference and the ability to draw 140 souls from dinner to share in the spectacle of it all.