At Sea | Drake Passage

Jan 31, 2020 - National Geographic Orion

We had quite the welcome this morning as National Geographic Orion began her journey through the Drake Passage. Strong wind gusts, measuring up to 68 knots and up to a 6-meter swell jolted some of us out of bed in the wee hours of the morning. As the day went on, the wind died down slightly but the rocky seas still served as a reminder of where we were. The Drake Passage can be unforgiving but, regardless, is a rite of passage for those going to the Great White Continent. As we inch our way closer, the excitement builds.

This morning our certified photo instructor, Jonathan Zaccaria, gave a presentation on photography techniques and camera basics. Afterwards, we broke out into smaller groups for hands-on demos. All of this so that we are better equipped and prepared for the adventure that awaits us on the Antarctic Peninsula.

I gave a presentation on the awe-inspiring albatross of the Southern Ocean, and there were a number of brave souls that joined me in person in the main lounge. Others spent time resting, trying to get their sea legs up and running. Legend of the ship Tom Ritchie introduced us to Antarctica with a presentation on information about how and why the great white continent is the way that it is.  By teatime, there was a lot more action around the ship. Over the course of the day, the attendance in the main lounge increased, and by the time it was the captain’s welcome cocktail hour we had the better part of a full house! Captain Heidi introduced members from the various ship sections, and we got to raise a glass to all the hardworking crew and what will be an exciting expedition!

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About the Author

Karen Velas


Karen Velas cares deeply about protecting the environment and its wildlife.  Over the last 15 years, she has been involved with numerous conservation projects, including working as the Lead Project Coordinator on the California Condor Project with The National Audubon Society, managing projects in the flooded rice fields of California’s Central Valley with The Nature Conservancy and surveying the distant cliffs of Iceland to aid in puffin recovery with the South Iceland Research Centre.

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