Bahia Jackson & Bahia Ainsworth

Mar 12, 2019 - National Geographic Orion


Karukinka Natural Park is in the Chilean portion of Patagonia. This area amounts to almost 700,000 acres of wildness south of Tierra del Fuego, and is one full of waterfalls, glaciers, mountains, and streams.

National Geographic Orion positioned inside Bahia Jackson early Tuesday morning. Teeming with wildlife, this bay is fixed deep in a glacial fjord formed more than 10,000 years ago when glaciers in this area receded, leaving rounded, rocky peaks. Zodiacs were deployed and guests rode ashore. Once at the landing, wildlife encounters began immediately. Southern elephant seals, the largest of the true seals, lined the beach.

Male Southern elephant seals can reach immense sizes—up to 8,000 pounds each. Strong sexual dimorphism means the females are notably smaller, roughly a fifth of the size of an adult male. Guests navigated carefully through these animals, en route to a beautiful waterfall hike deep into the beech forest.

The afternoon took the ship and her passengers to Bahia Ainsworth, or Ainsworth Bay. With a meandering boardwalk, this nice landing offers a walk through the woods, bird watching, and time to reflect on a journey through Patagonia. Peale’s dolphins decided to bow ride the Zodiacs on the way in, giving the guests quite a show. On the walk, human impact was noticed in the way of invasive species. Introduced by the Argentine Navy in 1946 for purposes of trapping, the North American beaver has taken up position in Patagonia. Being without natural predators in this area, the beaver population has since ballooned to 5,000 times the initial population size. Ultimately, this introduction was a poor decision, as the forest habitat these beavers utilize has become permanently altered as a result of rampant harvesting from this unchecked species. This fact serves as a swift reminder of how impacting our decisions have on the natural world.

After a beautiful morning and the opportunity to work our legs, guests returned for an evening of rest and relaxation spent under a sunset with cocktails in hand as memories and experiences were shared through the night.

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About the Author

Alyssa Adler

Undersea Specialist

Originally from Oregon, Alyssa has always had a strong relationship with nature and the outdoors. In search of a life full of adventure, she found her passion for the ocean while studying at Oregon State University. She graduated in 2012 with a B.Sc. in marine biology, a minor in chemistry, and a PADI divemaster certification. The year following graduation included extensive traveling and diver training, gaining experience in Greece’s Ionian Sea, the Caribbean waters of Honduras and Bonaire, and the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador.

About the Photographer

Ian Strachan

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

One steady constant in Ian’s life has been the ocean. Born by the rocky shores of mid-coast Maine, his family repatriated to far north Queensland in Australia early on in his life where he became a dual-citizen and sparked his passion for exploring new environments. Living only an hour away from the Great Barrier Reef served to direct, if not focus, the exhilaration of discovery and set him on his current path. Returning to native soil for education, Ian was fascinated by altogether too many subjects, leaving him with a bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College in Psychobiology, focusing on animal behavior and perception, and with minors in Astronomy, History, and Environmental Science.

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