Feb 08, 2019 - National Geographic Explorer
What an amazing expedition day in Antarctica! We left the Drake Passage behind and arrived at our first destination in the morning: the famous tabular iceberg A57a. This iceberg calved off an ice shelf in the Weddell Sea in 2008 and has since then traveled about 1,100 nautical miles to its current location. The visible part is about 40 meters above the water.
Free-drifting icebergs have been described in previous studies as hot spots of biological enrichment, with an abundance of chlorophyll and krill (Smith Jr. et al. 2007). As a result, we were able to observe animals close to the iceberg that feed on krill: humpback whales, gentoo penguins, and Antarctic fur seals. We also saw two small icebergs right next to A57a and speculated that those must have calved off in the past 11 days since we’d last seen it.
After those fantastic sightings, we headed to False Bay and went for our first Zodiac cruise of the expedition: beautiful glaciers surrounded the bay, which was full of brash ice, growlers, and bergy bits! We were very excited when we spotted our first leopard seals, resting on the ice—what a great first expedition day!
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