South Atlantic Ocean, toward the Falklands

Nov 08, 2018 - National Geographic Orion

“I need the sea because it teaches me” – Pablo Neruda. 

The origination of any voyage may be many things; we meet new friends and adapt to the new environment of our ship, and the places it will take us. But it is also a bombardment of information and dramatic changes to the life of just a few days prior.  After arriving in Ushuaia yesterday, a quick trip through the National Park of Tierra del Fuego introduced us to the marvelous Southern Beech forest of Patagonia, and on the short catamaran return cruise, we had just a hint of the southern marine birdlife yet to come.  We departed Ushuaia last evening towards the east into the Beagle Channel under typical conditions; cool temperatures, rapidly changing calm to gusty winds, one minute sun to nine minutes cloud.  As we kept busy with safety drills and getting settled into our new home, we could still snatch glimpses of the wildlife and scenery as the islands lining the channel fell away from view.

In apparent contradiction to common sense, we begin our journey to the southernmost continent by heading northeast. In many ways, we are following a natural arc of geology, oceanography, and biology across the South Atlantic to the Southern Ocean.  Having a day at sea allows us to collectively catch our breath, while we start to let so much new information seep into our minds and get our sea legs underneath us.  More introductions to the expedition staff, ship’s crew, and briefings on small boat operations, followed by staff presentations on photography and an overview of Falkland Islands history and wildlife.  The islands we’ll reach tomorrow represents the easternmost extension of the southern portion of the South American continental shelf.  Broken clouds and small squalls didn’t seem to bother the numerous seabirds following us throughout the day; including royal, grey-headed and black-browed albatrosses, giant petrels, cape petrels, and Wilson’s storm-petrels among others.  With the wind and waves mostly approaching us from the stern quarter or abeam, National Geographic Orion made good time, while gently reminding us with open sea motion to keep one hand for ourselves, and one for the ship.

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About the Author

Robert Edwards


Growing up in the Appalachian foothills of the Garden State, Rob instinctively knew it made a lot more sense to head over the hill into the fields, forests, lakes, and streams behind his house, rather than down the road to the shopping mall in front of it. The natural world piqued the inherent curiosity in all of us and set his life course based on these questions: how does the world work, and how do we as humans fit into it?  

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