Our extended ocean crossing through the western part of the Drake Passage was rewarded when we woke up this morning and found ourselves on the verge of crossing the Antarctic Circle. Not just a dotted line on the map, this latitude represents the tilt of the earth relative to our orbit around the sun, meaning that at this line on the summer solstice the sun never sets. While we are visiting well on in the summer season, we still plan to take advantage of the long daylight hours over the coming week to explore this unique part of the globe. Only a few vessels have the opportunity to travel this far south in any year, so we count ourselves lucky to follow in the tracks of heroic explorers such as Adrien de Gerlache and Jean Baptist Charcot.
National Geographic Explorer
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!