Daily Expedition Reports

Daily reports from our days in the field


  • Drake Passage

    The wind and swell died away for good today, and the sun came out in the afternoon: surprisingly pleasant conditions out on deck. A fine day for a spot of birdwatching! With four species of albatross and six species of petrel, it was a great day to hone our species identification skills which will undoubtedly get sharper as we spend the next three weeks exploring the Southern Ocean.

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  • Drake Passage

    As we crossed the Drake Passage, we partook in a thorough decontamination protocol to prepare for our landfall on the Antarctic continent today. Boots were scrubbed, bags were vacuumed out, and no seed was left clinging to a Velcro strap. By doing this we greatly reduced the chance of unwittingly ferrying unwanted hitchhikers like plants, fungal spores, or pathogens to the White Continent. We are now ready for Antarctica!

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  • Drake Passage and Beagle Channel

    As we approached the end of our expedition, our final full day at sea offered both a full plate of activities on board as well as a chance to reflect on all the experiences of the last ten days. Wind, waves, and wildlife are all important parts of crossing the Drake Passage. We started the morning with ample quantities of the first two, but even with the occasional brace of spray covering the bow and bridge we still made good time with a reasonably comfortable ride on National Geographic Orion. Everyone found their own niche on the ship, writing in journals, editing photos, maybe even getting a head start on packing for the upcoming air travel home. There were a number of presentations also to divert our minds from that latter chore.

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  • At sea, Drake Passage

    The first day of our epic journey! We began by heading south towards Antarctica and steadily steaming away from Ushuaia and the mainland of the Americas. A calm Drake Passage, by any standards, allowed most to maneuver around the decks with ease and get outside regularly for the refreshing but not-too-chilly ocean air. During the morning we were introduced to the expedition team and the special guest speakers on board, and we also listened to an introductory talk about the seabirds of the Southern Ocean. It’s fascinating to know whose company we are keeping while we travel.

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  • Drake Passage | S61° 04.6”, W64°14.3”

    Today we sailed northward at a speed of around 12 knots towards Cape Horn. At 8 a.m., the water temperature was 2.5 °C and by 2 p.m. had risen sharply to the balmy value of 4.2 °C indicating we had crossed the Polar Front, also known as the Antarctic Convergence. Moving away from the ice and into the open ocean brought a suite of seabirds for our pleasure, in particular the members of the tube-nosed seabirds, classified in the order Procellariiformes.

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  • Port Lockroy

    Waking up to blue skies and big smiles, we sail into our last true day down on the white continent. Finding ourselves at the well-known anchorage of Port Lockroy for one last morning of adventures before pulling anchor and head north back into the famous Drake Passage once more.

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  • Cape Horn & the Beagle Channel

    After an easy return crossing of the Drake Passage, we awoke to get a look at Cape Horn, the legendary tip of South America, feared by mariners throughout history. Today it was not so intimidating as the sun broke through in patches and the meeting of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans undulated rather gently.

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  • Deception Island

    Today we explored a report fjord full of glaciers! Our guests departed in Zodiacs in search of wildlife and wilderness. At the head of the fjord, a large glacier cascading into the sea welcomed us with colors of blue and white. All of a sudden a large section of the glacier broke, cascading to the ocean and sending a large wave. From a safe distance, we watched this incredible event. Later during the Zodiac excursion, we encountered three curious leopard seals. They followed our Zodiacs for some time, and at one point swam right beneath us!

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  • At sea in the Drake Passage

    One day after Valentine’s Day, and the love continued: there was little wind and the seas were gentle today. Even with just a soft breeze there were big birds around: white-chinned petrel, black-browed albatross, and the biggest of them all, the wandering albatross. The big seabirds need at least some wind to stay more or less effortlessly aloft. Today had the bare minimum, which was good for us.

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  • Half Moon Island & Deception Island

    Valentine’s Day began as the National Geographic Explorer approached Half Moon Island, situated in the South Shetland Islands. The guests chose between a long or short hike for their morning activity.

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