Daily Expedition Reports

Browse photos & daily reports sent from the field every day

1241 Daily Expedition Report(s) match your criteria

  • Lemaire Channel & Penola Strait

    Rays of sunshine rolled in off the snow-kissed mountains this morning as we headed down the famed Lemaire Channel, so named by Belgian explorer, Gerlache. The channel is a tapering seven-mile stretch, reaching on average only a mile wide and lined on either side by a series of panoramic and magnificent peaks. At its end, the Channel opens out into the wide sweeping Penola Strait, with Girard Bay off to one side. The whole area was filled with beautiful glistening clusters of brash ice, interspersed with burgs and crystal clear growlers. Penguins porpoised in between the chunks of ice and Crabeater seals were hauled out and sunning themselves on burgs.

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  • Drake Passage, Barrientos Island

    The waves calmed down which enticed the seabirds to follow our ship looking for any morsel of food that our propellers may have elevated to the surface. Albatross with elegant eye shadows, light-mantled albatross and black and white “pintado petrels” soared and dove in the wind and the waves.

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  • At Sea, Drake Passage

    A day at sea crossing the Drake Passage can bring to mind many images. For some it is the dynamic soaring of a wandering albatross or giant petrel, effortlessly harnessing the wind for transportation. Others see it as the biological transition between the warmer northern waters of the south Atlantic and the consistently cold currents of the Antarctic proper. For me, nothing represents the Drake Passage more than the varied shapes and sizes of the swells that roll from west to east across this expansive landscape of ocean and sky. Some days produce long, shallow swells with the troughs and peaks spaced hundreds of meters apart. Other days have steeper swells spaced closer together, actually cresting into waves despite the thousands of feet of water beneath our keel.

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  • Beagle Channel & Ushuaia

    Land Ho! After making record time sailing north on our homeward bound journey from the great white continent, National Geographic Orion awoke to calm seas and moody skies. Passing Cape Horn early in the morning, our approach back to land was signified not just by the increase in sea temperature since passing north back through the Antarctic convergence, but also by exciting marine animal sightings not found within the Drake Passage.

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  • At Sea

    We bid adieu to our life in the Antarctic and began our journey home. As a mid-morning activity, we had Frühschoppen on the back deck. Frühschoppen is a German tradition, to meet up with people for a drink and food before midday. Head chef Rannie and his team set up a BBQ on the back deck and we gathered for food, music, and drinks. Fresh sausages were being grilled (don’t forget the grilled onions, sauerkraut, and various mustards!), Bloody Marys were being poured, and we had a mini dance party to the Michael Jackson soundtrack that was playing. The wind still had a sharp bite to it, but it was nothing a hat and a pair of gloves couldn’t fix. While we scarfed our sausages (eating more than one sausage was definitely welcome, judgment-free!), we enjoyed watching the cape petrels glide behind us. They were a good reminder that, despite our fanfare, we were still in the wild Southern Ocean.

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  • Port Lockroy and Dallmann Bay

    Even though National Geographic Orion was rocking well into the early morning hours with the “Dead Penguins” band leading a dance party for all ages, she had managed to stay safely snuggled overnight into the ice of Port Lockroy for the beginning of our morning activities.  The harbor was named by the French Antarctic Expedition of 1903-1905 under Charcot for a French politician who helped secure funding for the journey, which just emphasizes the point that many Antarctic location names are in honor of people and groups who have never visited the Antarctic, though they were still instrumental in the exploration of the last continent. 

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  • Gerlache Strait and the Danco Coast

    Antarctic expedition plans are only valuable as a basis from which to start the process of adapting to changing weather and ice conditions, and that is how our day began this morning before breakfast.  As we began our planned transit of the dramatic Lemaire Channel, the wind was howling and the snow swirling among the dark, craggy mountains lining the narrow ribbon of sea.  As the 1000-meter peaks emerged then disappeared from view, it became clear that the channel ahead was blocked by ice, and Plan B was in order. 

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  • Wilhelmina Bay & Neko Harbour

    Overnight we travelled back through the Antarctic Sound (named after Nordenskjold’s expedition ship which sank dramatically in the Weddell Sea in 1902) and rounded the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. The morning brought us calming seas and a wonderful passage heading southwards again, with the coast of Continental Antarctica on our port side and a string of snow-capped islands to starboard. Islands were looking like clouds and clouds resembling islands. During the transit, we enjoyed a most informative presentation from Javier on ‘Penguins’ – everybody’s favourite subject – and their fascinating and varied lifecycles and biologies.

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  • Snow Hill Island, Antarctica

    Today we had quite an unusual day, and believe it or not, it started exactly at midnight! Some people might argue that the day before never ended, and that today’s experiences were simply a continuation of events that started the day before and lasted well over the 24 hours that a normal day will have. This would not be unusual in Antarctica, as the daylight doesn’t really disappear during the polar nights. This fact worked to our advantage this evening, as by midnight, several people were at the ship’s bridge: the captain himself, guests, officers, expedition leader, naturalists and several of the crew were all well awake, experiencing one of the less-seen landscapes in Antarctica, the Weddell Sea, right off the eastern side of Snow Hill Island.

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  • Devil’s Island, Weddell Sea, Antarctica

    This day will be remembered by everybody onboard. We started the morning visiting Devil’s island in perfect weather conditions. We landed and walked the shoreline to get close to the Adélie penguin colony that is established here. Hundreds of penguins were nesting while skuas and southern giant petrels were flying above us. Some guests walked across the island to get a view of Cape Well-Met, where the party of the Swedish expedition under Dr. Otto Nordeskjold found the relief party after being stranded through the winter in Antarctica in 1904.

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Please note: Daily Expedition Reports (DER’s) are posted Monday-Friday only, during normal business hours.

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