Brown Bluff & Devil Island

Feb 23, 2020 - National Geographic Explorer

Our day started in the north part of the Antarctic peninsula, with some true Antarctic weather: snowflakes surrounded the ship and lent a mysterious atmosphere to our navigation. Soon we crossed Esperanza Base, an Argentinian research station that is inhabited year-round. Less than a month ago, Esperanza recorded the highest temperature record for Antarctica—18.3 °C, or 65 °F, which was only one degree lower than the temperature recorded in Kailua, Hawaii, that same day.

Our journey continued to Brown Bluff, a volcano nearly 2,300 feet high, which would be our second continental landing of the expedition. Dozens of leopard seals patrolled the area, and we had incredible encounters with them. One of our teams could even see them hunting a penguin. Female leopards can reach 1,000 pounds and are formidable hunters, propelling themselves underwater with both sets of flippers.

In the afternoon we sailed to Devil Island for a true adventure, taking the Zodiacs ashore and climbing to the mountain through the sporadic blizzards. We could only imagine the daring of the Nordenskjold Expedition during the Antarctic winter as we visited Cape Well-met, the place where the Expedition’s Captain Otto Nordenskjold reunited with his party after months of separation. More leopard seals visited us when we were out on our Zodiacs, and we could enjoy their presence again.

Our day finished with our crew band, a.k.a. the Spice Boys, the most traveled band in the world! Our naturalists Doug and Ella participated: Doug with his guitar and Ella at the microphone. Some of our naturalists are certainly very multitalented!

  • Send

About the Author

Javier Cotin


Javier 's passion for birds and nature began as a child exploring the Pyrenees mountains with his father. The mystery that surrounds the Lammergeier silhouette triggered his curiosity and interest towards wildlife. Javier studied biology in Spain and Norway, and was awarded his PhD at the University of Barcelona in 2012, titled “Birds as bioindicators of pollution in terrestrial and aquatic environments”. Within it he mainly studied the trophic ecology and pollution levels of land and waterbirds, with a particular focus on how human activities affect bird populations and dynamics. His work provided important information for conservation management of wetlands and terrestrial habitats and the species that utilize them.

About the Videographer

Ashley Karitis

Video Chronicler

Ashley was raised in Central Oregon where she spent her childhood ski racing, riding horses, playing classical piano, and working summer jobs on a dude ranch. She then attended the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles earning degrees in cinema-television, history, and international relations. Although immersed in the studies of narrative filmmaking, she gravitated toward the process, deeper on-camera conversations, and scientific and human themes explored in documentary production.

Get our newsletter

Join us for updates, insider reports & special offers.

Privacy Policy