The North Scotia Ridge to South Georgia

Nov 12, 2018 - National Geographic Orion

Today we continued our journey to South Georgia through the crest of the Scotia Ridge. At all times, plenty of wildlife surrounded our ship, giving us incredible opportunities to photograph albatrosses and other seabirds.

The morning started with a very enlightening talk: “What we´ve lost”, from our naturalist and marine mammals fan, Ella Pots. Ella explained in detail the sad history of the whaling era of South Georgia. It is comforting to see firsthand that sometimes we can learn from a dark episode of our history, and change policies which are leading to a brighter future. We also learned that the status of the blue whales, according to IUCN, is improving. For quite some years, we didn’t know if this remarkable species would recover from the very brink of extinction.

At just about lunchtime, we heard an announcement from the bridge. Our first iceberg was detected just ahead of us! Everyone ran to the bridge and bow, fully equipped with cameras and binoculars to admire this tabular iceberg. The relatively “small” tabular iceberg had an extension of 1.8 x 1.5 miles, with a height of around 120 feet. Martin Graser, our captain, maneuvered the ship gracefully while keeping a safe distance. It was mesmerizing to realize how National Geographic Orion was dwarfed by such a big iceberg. The sides of the berg, which were carved by waves, presented ice-caves, which mysteriously trapped our attention. After admiring the iceberg, we set sail again to South Georgia, but not before learning about some of its highlights thanks to our naturalist, Jonathan Zaccaria. From albatrosses to rat eradication, Jonathan covered all the main topics of the islands we are about to explore.

The day could not end without a few more surprises! We passed by another iceberg, which was lit by the warm light of sunset and created a warming effect. Last, but not least, we passed around Shag Rocks. These small islands abruptly that emerged from the sea with their vertical cliffs are home to hundreds, if not thousands of seabirds. Albatross and cormorant birds filled the air as they departed or returned to the island from their fishing trips.

The day ended as is the tradition with recaps and a delightful dinner. It’s time to go to bed… Tomorrow South Georgia awaits, where we’ll jump into Zodiacs and explore the wilderness of these amazing islands. 

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About the Author

Javier Cotin


Javier 's passion for birds and nature began as a child exploring the Pyrenees mountains with his father. The mystery that surrounds the Lammergeier silhouette triggered his curiosity and interest towards wildlife. Javier studied biology in Spain and Norway, and was awarded his PhD at the University of Barcelona in 2012, titled “Birds as bioindicators of pollution in terrestrial and aquatic environments”. Within it he mainly studied the trophic ecology and pollution levels of land and waterbirds, with a particular focus on how human activities affect bird populations and dynamics. His work provided important information for conservation management of wetlands and terrestrial habitats and the species that utilize them.

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