Snow Hill Island and Sea Ice

Jan 31, 2019 - National Geographic Explorer

History, fossils, walking on water, a marriage proposal (she said yes), a blue whale—oh my! Today was an Antarctic trifecta. Or quintuplet? Whatever the case, Antarctica delivered. We began the day with a shore excursion to Snow Hill Island where we visited the hut that Nordenskjöld’s Swedish Scientific Expedition called home from 1902 to 1903. With each step we took, we rediscovered the very fossils that Nordenskjöld’s team studied expansively more than 100 years ago.

In the afternoon, we walked on water. Frozen water to be specific. Our captain found a strong, stable piece of pack ice left over from last winter’s freeze. He skillfully maneuvered the ship into a stable position at the edge of the sea ice, which provided a platform for a lovely afternoon stroll. Under us was a meter or so of frozen ocean—below that, 261 meters of water.

And when it seemed the day couldn’t get any better, a juvenile blue whale was spotted ahead of the ship and appeared to lead us back north through the Antarctic Sound. As the largest mammal to ever roam the planet, we could nearly feel the vibrations of its exhales as it swam nearby. What a day in the Weddell Sea, and a big congratulations to the newly engaged couple!

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About the Author

Katie Crafts


As a kid, Katie wore mom-made, whale-covered jumpers (the uniform of the cool kid, right?!). In high school, she developed a study abroad program so that she could travel to Spain and see what more of the world was like. In college, she spent six weeks on a tall ship, sailing from Massachusetts to the Caribbean using a sextant, and doing plankton tows at all hours of the days and nights. Through these experiences, she started to piece together the planet from a cultural and environmental perspective.

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