The Drake Passage

Nov 28, 2018 - National Geographic Orion

As we headed south, the Drake Passage yielded some fantastic bird sightings! We encountered huge numbers of blue petrels, black-browed albatrosses, southern fulmars, Wilson’s storm petrels and even encountered a grey-headed albatross – a fantastic start for wildlife. We also saw our first whale blow of the voyage, although unfortunately too far off to turn off course. Hopefully more to follow over the coming days.

In the morning, the naturalist team provided their introductions and we all had our first lunch together - a nice opportunity to begin to get to know each other. After lunch, we had the mandatory safety and biosecurity briefings, a necessity before our arrival in Antarctica.

In the afternoon I delivered my talk on whaling and the whales of the Southern Ocean. Whaling had a huge impact on the ecosystem of the Southern Ocean, decimating populations of blue, fin and humpback whales, to near extinction in these productive and once teaming waters. This degradation was exacted over a small period of just 55 years, which goes to show the destructive power that we can have on our marine environment. Luckily, many whale populations are now on the up, following the end of whaling and the 1986 moratorium – something that we hope to experience the signs of over the coming days.

Tomorrow we plan to head onward to Half Moon Island, a small island in the South Shetlands where we hope to encounter our first rookery of chinstrap penguins.


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About the Author

Ella Potts


Growing up, Ella spent much of her time swimming and kayaking in the cold waters off the rugged coast of West Wales. It was there that she first found her love of the ocean. From those early beginnings she went on to study Biology at undergraduate degree and Environmental Biology, Conservation and Resource Management to Masters degree level, at Swansea University. During her studies, Ella took an ecosystem approach towards assessing the health of our marine systems, with her specialism being in our oceans apex predators, the cetaceans. Following her studies, Ella decided to put her scientific background to good use and move into marine conservation.

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