Dec 04, 2018 - National Geographic Orion
Even though National Geographic Orion was rocking well into the early morning hours with the “Dead Penguins” band leading a dance party for all ages, she had managed to stay safely snuggled overnight into the ice of Port Lockroy for the beginning of our morning activities. The harbor was named by the French Antarctic Expedition of 1903-1905 under Charcot for a French politician who helped secure funding for the journey, which just emphasizes the point that many Antarctic location names are in honor of people and groups who have never visited the Antarctic, though they were still instrumental in the exploration of the last continent.
As we began the dual operation of the visit to Bransfield House and skiing on the fast ice behind Goudier Island, the wind picked up and the pack ice and icebergs started moving, which necessitated repositioning the vessel to a more secure location in the harbor. All went smoothly and both activities continued through the morning. The museum, post office, and gift shop at the old Base A of Operation Tabarin provide a great cultural context to human activities on the Antarctic Peninsula in the middle of the 20th century, and those who skied had one last taste of the grandeur and (literally) breathtaking views of the Antarctic Peninsula for our last day on “the Ice”.
We then transited north through Dallmann Bay in the Palmer Archipelago prior to entering the Drake Passage for our voyage to Ushuaia, Argentina, and ultimately home. The bay is a feasting ground for humpback whales, and one pair obliged us with a show off the bow of the ship. Even though we saw and experienced so much over the last few days, there always is a twinge of regret upon departing the peninsula for regions north. While the ice, wildlife, and rocky heights are fading from view, we still have the vast Southern Ocean ahead of us, one of the most extensive true wilderness areas on the planet, and a mysterious marine ecosystem through which we can just cut a narrow furrow.
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