Charlotte Bay & Danco Island

Dec 16, 2019 - National Geographic Orion


Our day began in Charlotte Bay with bright sunshine and smooth waters. Not one breath of wind rippled across the water’s surface as we cruised into the bay. With towering peaks and glittering glaciers at all angles, we entered our Zodiacs for a closer look at the ice.

As we explored the bay, naturalist staff spotted several groups of humpback whales. We watched as they displayed a range of behaviors from resting to feeding, and enjoyed up-close views of their flukes as they made their dives under the surface.

After departing Chartlotte Bay, our afternoon was full of surprises. A pod of killer whales swam past National Geographic Orion, and we slowed down to observe the ocean’s top predator from the bow. Later, we encountered a humpback whale that breached many times in a row and slapped its pectoral flippers on the water in the afternoon sun.

After dinner, we took the opportunity to enjoy the golden evening light at Danco Island, a beautiful landing with a gentoo penguin colony, skuas, and nesting kelp gulls. Guests and staff who made the steep hike up to a snowy ridge were rewarded with phenomenal views of the sunset over the Antarctic landscape.

This golden evening light is exactly what photographers dream of when they come to a place like Antarctica.

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About the Author

David Spiegel

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

David grew up in the Seattle area, where he fell in love with nature through outdoor sports in the Pacific Northwest. He first picked up a camera during a 14-day Grand Canyon river trip at the age of 18. Little did he know that his hobby would morph into a lifelong passion and career. He moved to Colorado to pursue a degree in International Political Economy from Colorado College. After receiving his degree, he applied his passion for media to documenting watershed conservation issues in the Colorado River Basin states through the lens of a 900-mile-long river expedition in 2012.

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