South Orkney Island

Feb 24, 2019 - National Geographic Explorer

Our last day in Antarctica was quite a special one. Rarely does National Geographic Explorer get to visit the far-flung South Orkney Islands. The place we intended to visit holds the record as the oldest Antarctic base still in operation. Orcadas Station, belonging to Argentina, came into view after our scenic route icebergs and the area’s smaller islands. Keen observers spotted numerous seabirds and marine mammals from the deck and the open bridge. After some formalities with the base commander, guests were invited to visit the station that is currently recording information on weather and studying plankton during both the summers and very long winters. Guests were escorted in small groups around the base’s many buildings and even invited them into the common area to share hot drinks and cookies. A delightful look into the lives and jobs of people working in Antarctica today. Afterward, we turned north toward South Georgia!

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About the Author

James Hyde

Undersea Specialist

James is a home-grown, free-range Pacific Northwest outdoorsmen. Born in Seattle and reared nearby on Vashon Island, he grew up in and surrounded by the Salish Sea. James has saltwater in his veins, but would be quick to point out we all do, echoing Carl Safina " We are, in a sense, soft vessels of seawater." Born with the travel bug, James was fortunate enough to spend time on four continents before graduating college. During his studies at Western Washington University's Huxley College of the Environment, James went to Australia and visited the Great Barrier Reef. He was never the same. A lifetime of playing in the productive, but opaque green water of the Northwest had offered him little firsthand experience of the creatures below its depths, but with a clear view of the colorful dramas playing out across the bottom of the tropical Pacific, he was hooked. Scuba diving and underwater ecology were solidified as his passion and after college, it took him to a dive shop in Seattle fixing gear, tidepooling with local middle school students, and generally making a spectacle of himself in the surf.

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