At Sea – From Elephant Island to South Georgia

Feb 27, 2020 - National Geographic Orion


We seek these far off, wild places for a wide number of reasons. To feel fresh air on our faces, to hear the sound of a 40-ton animal exhale, to have a penguin sit next to us, or perhaps to simply marvel at how a landscape can make us feel so small in the greatest sense of the word. Whatever moment may become our most unforgettable of this experience, what is most heartwarming to remind ourselves is that we would not be able to be out here to enjoy some of the most remote, infamous waters on the seven seas if it weren’t for the incredible crewmembers that are the lifeblood of National Geographic Orion.

There is no other place to be more grateful for this fact, perhaps than the crossing from Elephant Island to South Georgia. It is here within this 800-mile stretch, that Sir Ernest Shackleton and five trusted men of the Endurance expedition made their crossing aboard James Caird. While their navigation across these waters was made with just three sightings with a sextant and a boatload of good luck, our bridge team kept us on course with modern GPS and multiple radars. While the stones collected from Elephant Island were used for ballast and the regular waves provided a wash of cold spray, we continued along with our working stabilizers and hot showers on demand. And while any albatross flying by was hoped to be added to the stewpot with the regular boiled gruel, we held our cameras to our eyes to capture their magnificence for memories and our wildlife list, before tucking in to our gourmet “Blue Ice” seven-course dinner.

Along with 100 years of modern exploration technology developments, our journey across the Southern Ocean certainly would not be the same without the extraordinary people that call this ship home throughout the year. Thank you to the crew that make National Geographic Orion the greatest place to be.

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About the Author

Maya Santangelo

Naturalist/Expedition Diver

Maya was born and raised in Southern California, where her curiosity for the natural world was encouraged from an early age. Relocating to Sydney, Australia with her family at 11 years old, she learned to scuba dive, eventually becoming a PADI Instructor. Her fascination for the underwater world undoubtedly fueled her interest to study marine biology at James Cook University. Working as a professional guide in some of the world’s top dive destinations, including Palau and Mexico’s Guadalupe Island and Revillagigedo Archipelago, Maya realized a passion for sharing her love for the ocean with others, and the value of citizen science in the dive industry.

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