Cierva Cove

Jan 03, 2019 - National Geographic Orion

We woke up with crystal clear skies and a buzzing sense of energy and excitement for our last excursion down in the Antarctic. National Geographic Orion was nestled in Cierva Cove, surrounded by impressive icebergs and brash ice. The red buildings of the Argentinian base, Primavera Station, were on the rocks off in the distance.  We set off on Zodiac cruises to explore the impressive ice and to look for any behemoths of the deep that might reveal themselves -- and reveal themselves they did! Half a dozen humpback whales traded off between lunge feeding and logging on the surface during our Zodiac cruise as we were met by the hotel boat to give us a warm up of hot chocolate! Some of us got up close and personal with a curious leopard seal who spy hopped to check us out.

With everyone back on board and hungry for lunch, we began our journey away from Cierva Cove and what was for lunch??? WHALE SOUP!!!! They were everywhere.  Our ship was completely surrounded by lunging, fluking and breaching humpback whales. What an incredible sight. They came up towards the bow, so close that you could even see the barnacles on their flukes with your naked eye.

We sailed away from the whales and away from the magical great white continent, beginning our journey across the drake passage.  Max Lowe, the National Geographic photographer, gave a thought provoking presentation about using photography to tell stories and showed us some of his poignant images from our journey. After tea time, Captain Martin Graser gave an enthusiastic presentation about the wonders of ice and we wrapped up our day with a recap that gave us a sneak peek at Mark Coger’s video chronicle of highlights and special moments from our trip.

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About the Author

Karen Velas


Karen Velas cares deeply about protecting the environment and its wildlife.  Over the last 15 years, she has been involved with numerous conservation projects, including working as the Lead Project Coordinator on the California Condor Project with The National Audubon Society, managing projects in the flooded rice fields of California’s Central Valley with The Nature Conservancy and surveying the distant cliffs of Iceland to aid in puffin recovery with the South Iceland Research Centre.

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