At sea from the Falkland Islands to Tierra del Fuego

Mar 07, 2018 - National Geographic Explorer


This morning, just before breakfast, it is bright outside with a bit of wind from the west.  Not too strong, but where is the wind going?  Where did it come from?  The wind is almost always from the west, more or less, at these latitudes.  Not a hard question.  Here, the wind is going around the world, again and again and again.  The water currents go this way as well, with a little extra meandering and looping.  The distribution of vascular plants on the subantarctic islands reflect this movement of wind and water, where the subantarctic islands are all those islands, worldwide, south of the Antarctic Convergence or Polar Front.  Plant colonization of these islands is predominantly from west to east due to the movement of the wind and sea.  This also applies to other types of life as well.

For those of us on the National Geographic Explorer, today’s wind is nice.  It is not strong enough nor long lived enough to build up the seas, but it is enough to lift up the birds.  During this busy, yet lazy day, the last sea day of our voyage.  One can pop up to the Bridge, chat with the officer-on-watch and interrogate a naturalist or two.  There are plenty of birds out there, soaring and swooping, dark ones, light ones, huge ones and lesser beasts as well.  There have been dolphins and sea lions and I expect there will be more, as well as whales.  But that is not what I am after.

Just after lunch I stalk onto the Bridge in search of visual material for this Daily Expedition Report.  On this day there is lots going on: lectures, the collection of images for the Guest Slide Show, the collection of images for our two Bio-Blitzes, the returning of rental gear, etc.  Not very photogenic!  Whales and sea birds?  Sure, great, but we have other Daily Expedition Reports featuring these animals from this voyage.  So, what really goes on during the last day of the voyage, aside from final laundry, settling accounts, doing some packing and exchanging contact information?  I think it is a good time to wind down, smell the lichens and look at the scenery, reflect perhaps.  Yes, on the Bridge I can see that we have past Isles de Los Estados to the south and to the north is Isla Grande, soon we will be in the Beagle Channel.  Who is that smiling person on the Bridge?  That would be naturalist Santiago, too excited to reflect, although he might be glowing somewhat as another bird has soared by, here, in one of the most interesting and beautiful spots in the world.

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About the Author

Dennis Cornejo

Naturalist

Dennis began scuba diving during the mid-1970s as part of a research project. At the time he was a research associate at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona, studying the population of winter hibernating sea turtles.  What began as a scientific study soon became a conservation project that expanded to three species of sea turtles along the entire Pacific coast of Mexico.  This project received major funding from the World Wildlife Fund and was eventually taken over directly by that agency with Kim Clifton and Dennis Cornejo as co-principal investigators.

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