The Drake Passage

Jan 25, 2019 - National Geographic Explorer

What a fantastic expedition we’ve had! We visited so many places, saw amazing wildlife, and enjoyed the views of glaciers and icebergs throughout our voyage. At the expedition’s end, we’re headed back to Ushuaia via the Drake Passage between the South Shetland Islands and Cape Horn of South America—the shortest way between Antarctica and another landmass. The passage was named after Sir Francis Drake, an English captain and slave trader who circumnavigated the world during one long expedition in the 1500s. It was the Dutch navigator Willem Schouten, however, who passed through the Drake Passage for the first time in 1616.

Leaving Antarctica behind doesn’t mean we were bored of National Geographic Explorer! While some of us preferred to stay in cabins during this rough part of the voyage, some guests visited the bridge or stepped outside (We actually had some sunshine today!) to look out for seabirds and other wildlife. The expedition staff offered a variety of presentations about working in Antarctica, current perspectives on climate change, the beautiful underwater world of Antarctica, and what it’s like to be stuck in the ice for some time. After dinner, game night was on! Guests had to match funny statements and experiences to each of the expedition team members. When they guessed right, the person stepped forward and told the hilarious story behind the fun fact.

Although we’ll miss the beautiful Antarctic landscape, it will be wonderful to revisit all the great things we experienced, sort the photos and videos, and share stories of the great White Continent with friends and family at home.

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About the Author

Hannah Kriesell


Having a great interest in science and love for nature, Hannah started travelling at an early age and engaged in work supporting local science projects and nature conservation efforts, such as being a ranger in South Africa’s Addo Elephant National Park, a volunteer in a wildlife rescue station in Ecuador, and monitoring the desert elephant population in Namibia. Her experiences during those trips led her to do a bachelor’s degree in biology in Germany and a master’s degree in international nature conservation in New Zealand. She studied insect species in Malaysia and New Zealand, whales and dolphins in Namibia and Australia, and endangered birds in Tahiti. Driven by her curiosity and her desire to explore, she did her Ph.D. on king penguins. Spending a total of 8 months amongst thousands of king penguins on Possession Island, Crozet Archipelago, she studied the mate choice behavior and communication in this fascinating seabird while also learning about the other 26 bird species inhabiting this beautiful and remote island. Together with renowned experts, she published an assessment of the biodiversity conservation efforts in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean and actions that can be taken to preserve those pristine environments.

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