In celebration of World Whale Day, witness the awe-inspiring beauty of a panoply of whales in Antarctica and see why these encounters inspire travelers to protect these special cetaceans and their homes.
World Whale Day was last week, ours was today. We spent the morning and afternoon in pangas on wavy, windy water watching whales: breaching, spy-hopping, logging, rolling, fluke-flipping, and slowly swimming under pangas. Many of us were baptized by the exhalent breath of close and up-wind whales. A ‘Wow’ Day.
It’s the beginning of the expedition on National Geographic Islander II and today we woke up for a pre breakfast walk on the island of South Plaza. Sea lions greeted us at the dock and on the trails land iguanas were basking in the first light of the sun as others ate the vegetation. Later in the morning guests enjoyed some water activities, such as kayaking along the shore or swimming in the ocean. Later, the ship shifted location and headed south toward Santa Fe Island, a place that holds the second largest colony of sea lions in this archipelago. Guests snorkeled in crystal clear water with sea lions, reef fish, sharks, and nudibranchs. For those who couldn’t explore the ocean swimming, they could enjoy it on board the glass-bottom boat. Later in the afternoon it was time to explore the island and walk the trails and observe endemic creatures such as land iguanas, lizards, mocking birds, and more. We are having a fabulous time on our expedition in the Galápagos Islands.
We spent a lovely morning on Bartolome Island. We hiked to the top of the island and the view was breathtaking. The day got warmer and we were ready for our underwater activities. We swam with penguins, sharks, and an innumerable number of fish. In the afternoon we moved to Sombrero Chino. We had the chance to once again dip into the crystalline waters of the Galapagos, such a wonderful world to discover. Our day finished with an exciting Zodiac exploration of the coast, returning to the ship under a beautiful sunset.
Two days ago, adventurous travelers from all over the world gathered in Santiago, Chile, in preparation for our expedition into the Southern Ocean. We are planning to explore the Scotia Arc from Tierra del Fuego to the Antarctic Peninsula, then South Georgia and the Falklands before returning to Ushuaia, three weeks hence. The collective mood was electric as we flew southbound over the stunning landscape of the Andes Mountains, and then dropped over the Darwin Cordillera and into the airport of Ushuaia, perched on the edge of the Beagle Channel. We embarked National Geographic Resolution yesterday evening and made fast passage through the channels and islands of the archipelago and headed south into the infamous Drake Passage. Today Neptune has clearly approved of our adventure, as we had gentle seas and mild winds and passed through the geographic triple junction where the South Pacific, South Atlantic, and Southern Oceans meet. The world’s biggest wilderness of the deep global ocean is always interesting for those on the lookout, as we’ve already seen 4 species of marine mammals and 22 species of seabirds so far during our passage. Tomorrow we will be approaching the spectacular islands and coastline of the western Antarctic Peninsula.
This is the first of two days at sea crossing from the Falkland Islands to South Georgia Island, crossing from the South Atlantic to the Southern Ocean, crossing from the world of people to the world of nature. These two days are important, time to assimilate what we have experienced thus far and time to anticipate and prepare for what is to come. Our horizons are endless, carried on a benign sea from yesterday to tomorrow.