Drake Passage

Feb 16, 2019 - National Geographic Orion

We cast off our lines in the wee hours of the morning and were halfway down the Beagle Channel by dawn. The early risers were treated to a display of breaching by a mother and calf pair of humpback whales. Then it was out into the Drake Passage, which lived up to its infamous reputation: a relentless strong wind, gusting up to 65 knots, whipped the sea into a frenzy. From the aft deck we watched the seabirds in awe as they deftly used the wind to their advantage, hurtling by and arcing high above the horizon. As the storm system passes to our east tonight, we hope to make better progress as we head south towards the Antarctic Convergence Zone and the Southern Ocean proper.

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About the Author

Conor Ryan


Hailing from Cobh in the south of Ireland, Conor Ryan grew up on the shores of Cork Harbour where his fascination with the sea led him to study zoology at University College Cork. He continued his studies in marine biology in Galway, where he completed his Ph.D. thesis on the diet and population structure of baleen whales in the Celtic Sea using stable isotope analysis. His research also brought him to Cape Verde in search of the breeding grounds of humpback whales that frequent the coasts of Ireland. However these whales have not yet given up their secret!

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