Daily Expedition Reports

Daily reports from our days in the field


  • 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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  • The Drake Passage

    As most of us slept in the wee hours of the morning, we crossed a major oceanographic frontier—the Antarctic Convergence zone—and entered the Southern Ocean. As we ventured farther south, we were treated to sightings of a variety of seabirds and a brief glimpse of a mighty fin whale.

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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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  • The Drake Passage

    The Drake Passage is known for having some of the roughest seas on Earth, and today it lived up to that reputation. Experiencing the Drake in full conditions is something that will be remembered for a lifetime!

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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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  • Dallmann Bay

    This morning the guests aboard National Geographic Explorer awoke to our last beautiful, cloudless day in these true Antarctic waters. Dallmann Bay was the location of the morning’s expeditions—both above and below the surface.

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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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  • Wilhelmina Bay & Port Lockroy

    We searched this morning for a suitable spot where we could drive the ship, bow first, into fast ice and park for a little while. We found a good spot in Wilhelmina Bay. The weather was truly Antarctic, with frequent wind and snow showers that made for a beautiful morning on the ice.

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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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