Danco Island and Dallmann Bay

Dec 16, 2019 - National Geographic Explorer

As the solstice nears, the sun is up for nearly 22 hours, and the days seem to blend together. There is barely any darkness, and we don’t want to miss any of Antarctica’s beauty—glaciers, steep mountains, deep snow, high rock cliffs, and icebergs. We can sleep when we leave this magical place.

Today, under the brilliant sun, we kayaked and hiked to the top of Danco Island. We also had the chance to do the polar plunge—47 of our shipmates jumped from a Zodiac and earned bragging rights for swimming (if only briefly!) in Antarctic waters.

Our afternoon was devoted to watching humpback and killer whales. The echosounder on the Bridge showed shoals of krill at a depth of about 50 meters, right where several whales were making short feeding dives. Some of the humpbacks in this region migrate to breeding grounds off Peru and Ecuador for the winter and return to Antarctic waters to feed during the summer.

Humpbacks and killer whales don’t seem to interact. In Antarctic waters, there are several ecotypes of killer whales, and these Gerlache Type B killer whales have been observed hunting penguins.

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About the Author

Berit Solstad


Berit grew up on the rocky shores of Marblehead, Massachusetts. In the tidal cove behind her family’s home she found horseshoe crabs, eels, and feeding frenzies of fishes and birds. Low tides exposed clam flats, crabs, mussels, and snails. She explored this marine environment through changing tides and seasons, nurturing a love of natural history and marine biology.

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