Devil’s Island, Weddell Sea, Antarctica

Nov 30, 2018 - National Geographic Orion


This day will be remembered by everybody onboard. We started the morning visiting Devil’s island in perfect weather conditions. We landed and walked the shoreline to get close to the Adélie penguin colony that is established here. Hundreds of penguins were nesting while skuas and southern giant petrels were flying above us. Some guests walked across the island to get a view of Cape Well-Met, where the party of the Swedish expedition under Dr. Otto Nordeskjold found the relief party after being stranded through the winter in Antarctica in 1904.

We continued our exploration of the Weddell Sea going south to Duse Bay to attempt landing on the fast ice and walk over the frozen seas. When we entered the area, we spotted orcas swimming close to us. The group of type B killer whales was swimming fast, there were females, at least one calf, and one male in the group. Our photographs of this sighting showed us that some of them had penguins in their mouths. Afterwards, our Captain landed our vessel into the fast ice and we got ready to start our operations, however the fast-changing Antarctica weather brought 50 knot winds on us, making our landing difficult. We decided to seize the good conditions of the open waters on the Weddell Sea to push south and explore where National Geographic Orion had never gone before.

During our sail, Captain Martin Graser shared with us his knowledge of these regions with an excellent presentation on the ice formations and the difficulties of sailing in the Antarctic seas.

That night around 9 pm, our efforts paid off, we had our first sighting of an emperor penguin. All our guests, expedition team, and our crew enjoyed the view of these wonderful birds and the navigation between the ice in these parts.

What we celebrated as our first sighting of this magnificent animal turned into a memorable experience, soon the number of emperor penguins on our sight started to rise, and by dusk, we had seen several of them standing on the ice packs and swimming close to our ship. Our expedition leader, Luis Verdesoto, with our Captain, decided to push on and try to go south, closer to Snow Hill Island in hopes to get closer to a colony of emperor penguins in this area. As of midnight November 30th, we had 30 emperor penguins accounted on out wildlife list. A true expedition day that won’t be forgotten by anyone onboard, and a good omen to what this Antarctic expedition will bring us in the days to come.

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About the Author

Alex Searle

Naturalist

Born in Chile and raised in Argentina, Alex spent his childhood living in different parts of these countries and getting to know the local cultures.

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