Beagle Channel & Ushuaia

Dec 06, 2018 - National Geographic Orion


Land Ho! After making record time sailing north on our homeward bound journey from the great white continent, National Geographic Orion awoke to calm seas and moody skies. Passing Cape Horn early in the morning, our approach back to land was signified not just by the increase in sea temperature since passing north back through the Antarctic convergence, but also by exciting marine animal sightings not found within the Drake Passage.

Surveyed by National Geographic Pristine Seas in 2017, Cape Horn and the surrounding Magallanes region are home to a wild ocean ecosystem that includes abundant marine mammals and seabirds, supported by the world’s southernmost kelp forests. Black-browed albatross and royal albatross show off their impressive wingspans soaring across our bow, terns pass by on a floating patty of kelp, and South American sea lions and beaked whales break the surface of the waves.

Entering the protected waters of the Beagle Channel after lunch, we are greeted by blue skies, steep cliffs, dramatic mountain peaks, and lush greenery – the first native trees we have seen in over a week! Picking up our pilot for our home stretch, our afternoon is spent navigating through stunning scenery and enjoying presentations from our natural history team to reflect and unwind from our incredible journey south.

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About the Author

Maya Santangelo

Naturalist/Expedition Diver

Maya was born and raised in Southern California, where her curiosity for the natural world was encouraged from an early age. Relocating to Sydney, Australia with her family at 11 years old, she learned to scuba dive, eventually becoming a PADI Instructor. Her fascination for the underwater world undoubtedly fueled her interest to study marine biology at James Cook University. Working as a professional guide in some of the world’s top dive destinations, including Palau and Mexico’s Guadalupe Island and Revillagigedo Archipelago, Maya realized a passion for sharing her love for the ocean with others, and the value of citizen science in the dive industry.

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