At Sea & South Orkney Islands

Nov 18, 2018 - National Geographic Explorer


Early morning found National Geographic Explorer closing in on the South Orkney Islands. Mist and tabular icebergs obscured our view as we approached, the wind and the sea still quite lively! Finally, our destination was within reach: Coronation Island!

A day at sea offered chances for reflection and interesting conversation with shipmates, as well as the time to decontaminate our expedition gear before landing in a new area. Our afternoon and early evening were spent hiking and exploring Shingle Cove, a small, cobblestone beach that leads to Adélie penguin breeding colonies along an exposed ridgeline above the water.

We watched the Adélie and gentoo penguins’ antics. While they seemed almost humanly comical in their actions, securing a life for themselves and their chicks is serious business indeed. The Adélie is the sixth species of penguin we encountered on our expedition. Watching them come and go, in and out of the sea, reminded us that penguins really do fly—in the water, not in the air!

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About the Author

Michael Nolan

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Michael Nolan was born in Bitburg, Germany to an Air Force family stationed there. His first experience of the ocean came at age 12, when he learned to snorkel in the Italian Mediterranean. At age 17 he moved to Tucson, Arizona and became a PADI SCUBA instructor, before starting a SCUBA diving business that specialized in diving trips to the Sea of Cortez.

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