Brown Bluff and the Weddell Sea

Feb 11, 2019 - National Geographic Orion


Today was yet again a fabulous Antarctic day marked by stunning blue-sky weather, plenty of penguins, and an exciting range of marine life. After breakfast, we zipped to shore at Brown Bluff, a fascinating geologic area where we found hundreds of penguins. This is a colony which supported 100,000 pairs of Adelie penguins earlier in the season, but is now reaching the season's end. There were a handful of Adelie chicks and many gentoo chicks testing the waters and exercising their wings. The beach shallows were kiddy pools filled with fluffy chicks sticking their heads into the water, wading in, and being pushed around by small incoming waves. We enjoyed watching their antics for a couple of hours, as well as finding a solitary fur seal, and taking a hike onto the edge of a glacier.

In the afternoon we bundled up and headed onto the outer decks, where we stood watch for marine mammals. The wind was biting—a reminder that we are in fact in Antarctic waters—but the views were well worth it. Besides the usual contingent of humpback whales, we found a handful of fin whales and stayed with them for quite some time. As we were leaving the fin whales, we discovered a pod of killer whales. There was great excitement and concern as they thrashed a few penguins, providing substantial food scraps for petrels. As the orca viewing subsided, one of our naturalists spotted a blue whale, and once more we poured onto the decks to see the largest of all animals. Uncharacteristically, it allowed us to stay nearby for quite some time, and even treated us to a dive under the bow of the ship!

This evening the sun is once again shining, lighting up white icebergs with shades of pink and a promise for a beautiful sunset.

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About the Author

Emily Mount

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Emily grew up in Niwot, Colorado and Pullman, Washington. Her love of nature began as a child during family vacations spent hiking, camping and exploring the mountains and deserts of the west. In contrast to her outdoors interests, Emily pursued an intensive young career as a classical violinist, culminating in degrees in history and music performance at the University of Washington.  

About the Videographer

James Napoli

Video Chronicler

Jim was born in rural New England where he quickly developed an appreciation for the outdoors and a love of exploration.  Four years with the U.S. Navy further enhanced his appetite for travel. Always interested in the visual arts, he studied Television at Boston University and Northeast College of Communications, landing his first job in the industry working as an editor at a Boston television station. His wanderlust drew him to a job with two major cruise lines; installing and managing broadcast centers onboard a total of over a dozen ships. He has since moved on to specialize in expedition travel and wildlife productions.  

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