Cuverville Island

Feb 19, 2019 - National Geographic Orion


Today was one of those days you dream of having in Antarctica: blue powdered skies, remarkable ice structures, and plenty of wildlife. We had breakfast with humpback whales in view from the dining room windows and then zipped to shore at Cuverville Island. The view from the Zodiac ride to the beach was outstanding, with snowy mountains all around and huge pieces of ice extending up from the water’s subsurface. Few landscapes are as captivating.

Once ashore, we scattered along three trails. One headed up the slopes of a hill that would provide a commanding view of the surrounding Antarctic expanse. The other two meandered through a gentoo penguin colony. We were all delighted by the antics of the penguin chicks, all of which seemed deeply curios for their newly received company. Some of them approached to nibble at our pants and boots. Most of the chicks are still wearing their fluffy gray down, but soon they will be transitioning to adult feathers. Many adult penguins were prone on the rocks of the colony. Those in between adolescence and adulthood were molting terribly, resembling something not unlike that of a half-exploded pillow.

Despite the strong penguin smell, it was difficult to remove ourselves from our company. But the afternoon proved it to be well worth it. Following lunch, we came upon a pod of killer whales. We stayed with them for quite some time, watching dorsal fins glide ominously without sound through the water. Before we left, several orcas dove under the bow of the ship. One even turned on its side to get a good look up as guests took photos and waved.

Tonight, we are dining early so that there is plenty of time to enjoy our sunset transit across Lemaire Channel. For the night owls among us, it's a supermoon tonight!

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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.  

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