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

As a young marine biologist, Alyssa Adler has had the opportunity to work as a diver in many capacities. For several years, she was a dedicated AAUS scientific diver for University of North Carolina on an offshore reef ecology project, and has participated in several of NOAA’s reef survey missions. She has been diving with National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions as an underwater videographer and ocean educator since 2014 and has fostered a love for the poles and extreme cold-water diving, spending most of her time underwater in sub-freezing temperatures.

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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