Flanders Bay

Jan 01, 2019 - National Geographic Orion

Happy New Year! WOW, WHAT A DAY!

We had a day to remember forever. We started the year with the best day. Our morning found us in Flanders Bay in front of the sea ice shelf. Massive glaciers rippled down the mountains and huge icebergs were trapped in the frozen sea. As we gathered our things for our tour of the ice shelf, National Geographic Explorer arrived, and we celebrated the first morning of 2019 together. The first gift of the new year were 4 emperor penguins standing in the lee of the morning wind. The sun glowed through the clouds highlighting the rough-edged peaks. We walked along the fast ice until we reached two crabeater seals resting side by side. They were in a deep sleep and not even two ships worth of excited ice walkers disturbed their slumber. The light kept getting better. Suddenly news of killer whales approaching our landing site reached our ears. Type B2 Gerlache killer whales swam along the edge of the sea ice right by our landing spot. Yellow with diatoms, they carefully looked up at our Zodiacs to the thrill of our guests. The winds were strengthening as the sun broke through the clouds.

During lunch, we made our way to another inlet in Flanders Bay named Briand Bay. Here we toured in Zodiacs through brash ice and bergy bits in front of blue glaciers. One of the icebergs provided a sweet resting spot for three sleepy crabeater seals. The light of the day got better and better. A post-dinner cruise through the spectacular Lemaire Channel drenched us in beauty.

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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.

About the Photographer

Rich Kirchner

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Rich Kirchner has worked as a naturalist in Antarctica, Alaska, the Bering Sea, Baja and the High Arctic, including Svalbard, Greenland, the Canadian Arctic and Iceland, along with other destinations. His 33 years as a professional wildlife photographer has granted him international publication credits included in magazines such as Geo Germany, Geo France, Natural History, Audubon, National Wildlife and Ranger Rick, as well as more than a hundred books.

About the Videographer

Mark Coger

Video Chronicler

Growing up in a military family, Mark Coger has been traveling most of his life.  While living in Japan, he developed his passion for videography.  He began his venture in the field of video production by filming numerous events for a local high school and the military community before moving to Southern California, where he obtained his degree in filmmaking at California State University Northridge.  From there, he went on to produce and direct his first major short film, An American Journalist which was screened at the Method Film Festival.

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