Paulet Island & Brown Bluff

Dec 20, 2018 - National Geographic Orion

Waking up to whales is such a treat… Even when it’s at one o’clock in the morning! The announcement went out very early in the morning that there were humpback whales and incredible skies, and pretty much everyone came out to see. Several whales were seen fluking, blowing bubbles, and taking peeks back at the humans on the ship. The late sunset and early sunrise (which are very close to each other lately!) made for incredible light.

After heading back to sleep for a couple hours, we began the day again by gliding into a sunny, windless bay near Paulet Island, surrounded by beautiful ice sculptures and the calls of Adélie penguins. After breakfast and coffee, we made our first landing at Paulet Island to see the nesting penguin colonies and the historic stone hut built by the Larson expedition in the early 1900s. Large floes of ice drifted by the shore and Adélies lounged on them like giant rafts. Divers slipped into the water to see what was underneath and found an ice-swept cobble and mud seafloor with treasures of urchins, limpets, fishes, and the beautiful sea angel.

After warming up at lunch and a brief rest, we travelled west to Brown Bluff, a narrow beach with incredible wind-carved boulders and high cliffs. Though the landing was challenging, we were able to join parades of Adélie penguins as they marched along the shore. Battling wind, waves, and ice on the way back to the ship made coming home all the more cozy and warm.

As if all that weren’t enough, during dinner the captain parked the ship in an area of fast ice. The gangway was lowered, and we were all treated with an evening stroll on the ice, complete with champagne! Everyone was treated to one final surprise of the day when naturalists Marylou and Rich (a.ka. Mad Dog) exchanged vows with the blessing of the captain! It was a truly long austral summer day filled with natural beauty, exploration, and—best of all—love. 

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About the Author

Ashley Knight

Undersea Specialist

Ashley was raised in the high desert of Sedona, Arizona and escaped to the sea as soon as she was old enough. She developed a love for the oceans when she began scuba diving as a teenager and this has led to a career intertwined with the sea. Her simultaneous career as marine scientist and undersea specialist have given her opportunities to explore the kelp forests of California's Channel Islands, the coral reefs of the Florida Keys, and the rocky reefs of the west coast spanning from Monterey Bay to the Oregon Coast to British Columbia, the fjords of southeast Alaska, and the ultimate cold water of Antarctica.

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