The Drake Passage, Half Moon Island

Nov 29, 2018 - National Geographic Orion


After a speedy crossing, our second day at sea in the infamous Drake Passage was shorter than expected. Lunch hadn’t even been served when signs of Antarctica began to emerge. Our first clue was a series of massive icebergs grounded in 700 ft. of water. Their location corresponded to the edge of the continental shelf and our transition into the geologic realm of Antarctica. This is also when we started to spot large groupings of penguins, also associated with the steep shelf waters where nutrient-rich upwelling brings food to the surface.

Not long after, the outline of the South Shetland island group began to emerge and before you knew it, we were passing through English Strait surrounded by massive rafts of chinstrap penguins and humpback whale blows in every direction.

This was just the morning.

The afternoon took us to Half Moon Island where a colony of chinstrap penguins has already begun their annual nesting regime. Some guests spent their entire afternoon ashore getting to know the wildlife. Others covered nearly the entire island on foot for the best antidote to one and a half days at sea, a strenuous long hike.

Finally, a joyous announcement was made today from the hotel department aboard National Geographic Orion. Since much of our time in the Antarctic will be spent in the company of our wait staff and crew members I would be remiss if I didn’t relay that Mark Magpantay, a native of Batangas in the Philippines just found out his wife, Jolly Rose will be having a baby boy in April. This will be their first child and soon Mark will be joining his wife and soon-to-be-son in Oslo, Norway to start a new life together after eight years working aboard ships. Mark says, “I’m a little nervous about moving because I want to learn the language but I will be very happy to be with my wife and son more often.”

Best of luck to you and the family, Mark! And to the rest of the souls aboard National Geographic Orion, welcome to Antarctica!

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About the Author

Eric Guth

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Eric began work with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic in 2006 as a means to see the world, work with great photographers and engage his environmental studies degree beyond the classroom. His initial years with the company were spent working the waters of Southeast Alaska and Baja California. His move to the National Geographic Explorer in 2008 helped earn him the experience and knowledge needed to establish himself as a trusted boat handler, naturalist and respected photographer in nearly all the environments Lindblad-National Geographic travels.

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