Halfmoon Is and Arriving to Antarctica

Dec 30, 2018 - National Geographic Explorer


We have met Antarctica! Just after noon we spotted our first iceberg and knew we were approaching. By the time lunch ended National Geographic Explorer was cruising amongst the South Shetland Islands, just off the Bransfield Strait, on the Northwest side of the Antarctic Peninsula. The navigation was full of beautiful sights of glaciers, penguins in the water, and whales to boot! We motored into Halfmoon Island to the site of a scarcely manned Argentine research base and landed amongst the abundant chinstrap penguins and numerous seabirds and seals scattered across the beach. A fantastic place to begin our tour of Antarctica. After a nice leg-stretch around the island and plenty of time to fill up our memory cards we headed home to the ship for dinner but were delayed by encountering a tabular iceberg of enormous proportions. Recap was scratched, and dinner pushed back while we cruised along the 100ft wall of ice that no doubt dropped another thousand feet below the waves. Nearly a square mile, this ice surely came from a massive ice sheet to the south and is most likely the largest berg many of us will ever see. A fine welcome to the white continent indeed! 

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About the Author

James Hyde

Undersea Specialist

James is a home-grown, free-range Pacific Northwest outdoorsmen. Born in Seattle and reared nearby on Vashon Island, he grew up in and surrounded by the Salish Sea. James has saltwater in his veins, but would be quick to point out we all do, echoing Carl Safina " We are, in a sense, soft vessels of seawater." Born with the travel bug, James was fortunate enough to spend time on four continents before graduating college. During his studies at Western Washington University's Huxley College of the Environment, James went to Australia and visited the Great Barrier Reef. He was never the same. A lifetime of playing in the productive, but opaque green water of the Northwest had offered him little firsthand experience of the creatures below its depths, but with a clear view of the colorful dramas playing out across the bottom of the tropical Pacific, he was hooked. Scuba diving and underwater ecology were solidified as his passion and after college, it took him to a dive shop in Seattle fixing gear, tidepooling with local middle school students, and generally making a spectacle of himself in the surf.

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