Nov 15, 2019 - National Geographic Orion
Jackson Bay of Karukinka’s Natural Reserve was where we started our day. Slowly approaching the beach on very shallow waters we could see the reflection of the bended Lengas, southern beech trees. The water falling from high in the mountains surrounded us and a big elephant seal at a distances raised it’s head pronouncing a strong trumpet like sound that echoed all around the mountains.
This beach is a very important area for the southern elephant seals, Mirounga leonina, which name means trumpet-like inflatable snouts, due to their enlarged nose, proboscis, that can be as long as a foot and a half and is used to intimidate and deter competitors. Being the largest of all seals, these fascinating animals have traveled more than 11,000 kilometers from Antarctica for their mating season. These hefty looking beasts of the ocean are actually pretty impressive swimmers, spending around 80 percent of their time in the water and are great deep divers.
We crossed a stream onto a beach full of driftwood and got some amazing sights of the male elephant seals, master of the beach, alongside females and some weaning pups. We walked along a river meadow to discover a fascinating Magellanic deciduous forest. Sailing away we got a chance to see a colony of black-browed albatrosses and some Andean condors, both juveniles and adults.
There would be no better way to enjoy the marvellous weather in the afternoon than a Zodiac cruise and kayaking in Parry Bay. Here we explored the surroundings of the Darwin Cordillera where we found a beautiful glacier that ended in the water. The scenery was superb! Blue sky contrasting with some white clouds; the snow-capped mountains had glaciers with beautiful blue ice and the sound of very high waterfalls made us feel the height of these mountains. Kelp gulls, steamer ducks, South American terns and a giant petrel were some of our visitors on this cruise. As we approached the loose pieces of ice, we could listen to the air bubbles releasing from the thousand year old glacial ice, popping just like little popcorn. Near the front of the glacier there were two South American sea lions enjoying the sun in the most relaxing state.
What a day!
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