Drake Passage, Beagle Channel, Ushuaia

Jan 05, 2019 - National Geographic Orion

National Geographic Orion is a steady ship, but early this morning we got to experience what she’s really made of. The Drake Passage served up howling winds with gusts of up to 64mph and waves that peaked at 8m high. That meant the engine room was working overtime. Increased winds also meant wandering albatrosses, sooty shearwaters, and white-chinned petrels galore! We made it through the night and, lo and behold, LAND HO! We had rounded Cape Horn to the Beagle Channel and all became quiet.

Marylou Blakeslee gave a thought-provoking talk about climate change in the Antarctic and led a conversation about ways to be ecologically mindful at home. Teddy With and Teddy Without entertained the kids and the kids at heart with a magic show. As the ship slowed down, there was a buzz of energy as we picked up the Argentinian pilot to guide us back to Ushuaia. As the ship meandered her way through the Beagle Channel, we were treated with stunning views of giant petrels, black-browed albatross, and imperial shags.

Keyvon Marek gave an entertaining presentation about oceanography as we eagerly awaited tea time! And then, all of a sudden, it was time for the Captain’s Farewell Cocktail Party. It was hard to believe the journey was over. Saying goodbye to the ice, the penguins, the whales, and the Antarctic light was not an easy task, but some of us were already daydreaming about a return trip to the magical great white continent of Antarctica!

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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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