South Orkney Islands

Feb 25, 2020 - National Geographic Explorer

Located at 60° south latitude, the South Orkney Islands are an archipelago far to the northeast of the Antarctic peninsula. A nearby trench and continuous water and storm movement cause a huge amount of nutrient-rich cold-water upwelling, creating a lot of primary production and megatons of biomass.

After a morning spent with plenty of whale sightings, we got out in the Zodiacs to explore the western fringe of Coronation Island. There we were treated to views of Weddell, leopard, and fur seals. Thousands of chinstrap penguins crowded every shore, and the air was filled with flying birds of many species. After barely surviving a Zodiac “attack” by friendly Vikings who brought us hot chocolate, we returned to our ship to be regaled with stories from the mountains by our National Geographic photographer, Tommy Heinrich. South Orkneys, you’ve outdone yourselves.

  • Send

About the Author

James Hyde

Undersea Specialist

James is a home-grown, free-range Pacific Northwest outdoorsmen. Born in Seattle and reared nearby on Vashon Island, he grew up in and surrounded by the Salish Sea. James has saltwater in his veins, but would be quick to point out we all do, echoing Carl Safina " We are, in a sense, soft vessels of seawater." Born with the travel bug, James was fortunate enough to spend time on four continents before graduating college. During his studies at Western Washington University's Huxley College of the Environment, James went to Australia and visited the Great Barrier Reef. He was never the same. A lifetime of playing in the productive, but opaque green water of the Northwest had offered him little firsthand experience of the creatures below its depths, but with a clear view of the colorful dramas playing out across the bottom of the tropical Pacific, he was hooked. Scuba diving and underwater ecology were solidified as his passion and after college, it took him to a dive shop in Seattle fixing gear, tidepooling with local middle school students, and generally making a spectacle of himself in the surf.

Get our newsletter

Join us for updates, insider reports & special offers.

Privacy Policy