Elephant Island, Antarctica

Nov 21, 2019 - National Geographic Explorer


Plying the windswept Southern Ocean this morning, National Geographic Explorer approached Elephant Island in the distance. Albatross and petrels glided just above the waves as we rounded Cape Valentine, a historic site where the Shackleton Expedition first made landfall in 1916 after their ship, Endurance, was crushed by the pack ice in the Weddell Sea.

As if a switch had been flipped, the winds abated as we anchored near Point Wild, where the Shackleton Expedition ultimately wintered over awaiting rescue. Seizing upon the favorable conditions, we launched Zodiacs to explore this historic site from water level.

Departing Elephant Island, we crossed paths with a group of fin whales feeding on swarms of krill as a beautiful blue iceberg, complete with ice cave, beckoned in the distance.

An absolutely amazing day exploring the frozen wilderness of Antarctica.

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About the Author

Ralph Lee Hopkins

National Geographic Photographer

National Geographic photographer Ralph Lee Hopkins is the founder and director of the Expedition Photography program for the Lindblad-National Geographic alliance. For more than 20 years he has lead expeditions from the Arctic to Antarctica and points in between.

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