Half Moon Island, South Shetlands

Jan 08, 2019 - National Geographic Orion

Today we found ourselves way below the Antarctic Convergence, already feeling a cooler ocean breeze and definitely much cooler water temperatures as well. This particular region is already considered to be “truly Antarctic waters” due the tremendous concentrations of krill, a shrimp-like organism considered to be the main food supply for almost all living creatures in Antarctica!

Our navigation has been delightful! We couldn’t ask for a calmer Drake Passage, but somehow, we feel as if we are “cheating” our way into Antarctica…almost as if we have to pay the consequences later in the trip, but we will worry about that part later!

During the later-part of the morning we already encountered several groups of penguins in the water. Equally excited was the sight of our first iceberg and the first whale blowing spout! 

Right before lunch time, we were already in our desired geographical location within the group of islands known as The South Shetlands. The chosen one was an island known as Half Moon due its particular shape. Our landing was under fantastic weather conditions, as the sun was shining for most of the afternoon, and amazing blue-clear skies were all around us!

The main attractions of the afternoon were, of course, the adorable chinstrap penguins found all over the landing and up the hill. This particular island has a very successful chinstrap breeding penguin colony which already had successfully produced chicks!

All of our guests departed on excursions during the afternoon, and they all returned quite content to have enjoyed their first landing under great conditions. The adventure has just begun, and we are so looking forward to what tomorrow has prepared for us!

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About the Author

Javier Cotin


Javier 's passion for birds and nature began as a child exploring the Pyrenees mountains with his father. The mystery that surrounds the Lammergeier silhouette triggered his curiosity and interest towards wildlife. 

About the Photographer

Steve Morello

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Steve Morello has had a long and colorful career in the natural history world. Born in New Jersey he was lucky to be able to summer on the shores of Cape Cod. Whether it was exploring the tidal pools, snorkeling along the beach, or hiking in the dunes, it all came together to instill in him a deep connection to the natural world. It was no surprise that he would return to the Cape as a whale researcher in his adult years. It was on the Cape that Steve first became involved in guiding, and for 15 years acted as naturalist on whale watching boats in the Gulf of Maine. Steve worked with groups creating environmental education material for school programs and soon found another one of his passions, photography.

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