Port Lockroy, Gerlache Strait

Feb 24, 2020 - National Geographic Orion

Summer is coming to an end here in Antarctica. The days are getting shorter, and the nights are getting longer. This is the last expedition for National Geographic Orion for this Antarctic season.

The animals can feel the approach of fall as well. Gentoo parents are stuffing their hungry chicks with fish and krill. They are trying to fatten them up as much as possible for the oncoming catastrophic molt when each chick will lose its fluffy down coat, replacing these feathers with new waterproof adult feathers. In the coming days and weeks, newly fledged chicks and adults alike will take to the sea, swimming away and abandoning this nesting site. Blue-eyed shags are also fledging their chicks soon and all will simply fly away from here.

Humpback whales are busy gorging themselves as well. As summer comes to end they must make the absolute most of the time remaining for they soon will travel north to the breeding grounds off the coast of South America. Summer in Antarctica is the only time these whales have in their entire year to truly feed and pack on the blubber. Once they leave these food rich waters they will be on a forced diet, as there is very little to sustain them in the tropics.

Soon all aboard National Geographic Orion will depart these waters as well. We will point our bow north, and follow in the wake of Sir Ernest Shackleton towards Elephant Island, and then on to South Georgia. Stay tuned dear reader for there is much more to come!

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About the Author

Michael Nolan

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Michael Nolan was born in Bitburg, Germany to an Air Force family stationed there. His first experience of the ocean came at age 12, when he learned to snorkel in the Italian Mediterranean. At age 17 he moved to Tucson, Arizona and became a PADI SCUBA instructor, before starting a SCUBA diving business that specialized in diving trips to the Sea of Cortez.

About the Videographer

Eric Wehrmeister

Video Chronicler

Eric began his life on the far western edge of Chicago, where the concrete meets the cornfields.  His inspiration has always drawn from the expansive beauty of the natural world, as well as the endless forms that populate it.

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