Dec 28, 2019 - National Geographic Orion
Our last day on the Peninsula brought us back to Port Lockroy, this time for a landing at Base A and at Jougla Point. The museum and post office at Port Lockroy are a highlight for many visitors and provide an opportunity to buy some excellent souvenirs (like specially designed Antarctic tartan garments) and to learn more about what life was like for the men stationed here from 1944 to 1962. It is also a landing that allows the most intimate gentoo penguin experiences, as the Lockroy gentoos seem to be completely habituated to human presence and have no problems laying eggs and raising chicks right near the front door of Bransfield House.
Half the group visited Port Lockroy, while the other half spent time admiring the chicks of Antarctic or blue-eyed shags at Jougla Point. Jougla also provided an excellent opportunity to observe Weddell seals, learn about whale physiology (skeletons) and spend more time with gentoo penguins. The light was exquisite, and the views of the Seven Sister Peaks gave us a perfect backdrop for wildlife photos.
We departed our anchorage near Port Lockroy and sailed through the stunning Neumayer Channel. At 16 miles long, this stretch of water separating Anvers and Wiencke Islands provides a gorgeous cruise past majestic glacier-covered cliffs. Sailing through the S-shaped channel often feels like being in a maze because there does not seem to be an exit.
After leaving Neumayaer Channel, we turned a bit north into Dallmann Bay, searching for one last wildlife encounter before leaving the Peninsula’s protected waters. We were not disappointed! Our team spotted a tall dorsal fin in the distance. As we got closer, we discovered a pod of the small “B” ecotype killer whales! These whales are known as the Gerlache Strait killer whales as they are found in the strait and adjoining waters. A few of the pod swam close to the ship while others surfaced closed to the snow-covered mountains in the distance.
At the end of the day, we celebrated this fabulous voyage and our great fortune to experience such a pristine environment (and a white Christmas) with the hotel team’s Antarctic Blue Ice Dinner followed by the talented stylings of our very own crew dancers and musicians.
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