Drake Passage

Dec 28, 2018 - National Geographic Orion

Heading toward the Antarctica Peninsula, we were blessed with sunny skies and seas so calm that the usually ferocious Drake Passage became known as “Drake Lake.” Occasionally, a black-browed albatross and many blue petrels flew around our ship.

On this relaxing sea day, we met the expedition team and attended a photography lecture. Our National Geographic certified photo instructor, Steve Morello, inspired us with fantastic images and sound advice for our own photography. Avid photographers were invited to join the photo team in small-group workshops.

After a delicious lunch, we gathered in the lounge for our mandatory IAATO briefing, where we learned the proper etiquette of the Antarctic visitor and agreed to protect this pristine wilderness with our compliance to the regulations. To prevent introducing species, all of the outer gear was vacuumed as a precaution to catch any seeds that might be hidden in our Velcro.

The bridge was open for our visits and we saw all of the weather tracking devises as well as an array of buttons and knobs we were asked not to push! The ship was on course and making good time. We are expected to see land by noon tomorrow!

In the afternoon, naturalist Karen Velas gave a presentation on albatrosses, the huge seabirds flying outside the ship’s windows. This was followed by a cocktail party, where we officially met Captain Graser and the ship’s department heads.

Tonight, our expectation builds. We prepare mentally and physically for the days ahead. Many of us have waited over a year to visit the Antarctic and now we are one night’s sleep away.

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About the Author

Marylou Blakeslee


For the past 20 years, Marylou Blakeslee has traveled the world sharing her love of wild places. She lectures on a number of topics from the bears and wolves of the Arctic, to the leopard seals and whales of the Antarctic, as well as the turtles and fishes of the Great Barrier Reef.

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