The seas and wind moderated through the night and there was a healthy crowd at breakfast, looking forward to our passage into Antarctic waters, south of 60◦ south latitude. By crossing that line we officially are in Antarctia, though it would take most of the day to transit the Polar Front and make the ecological jump (figuratively) into the colder Southern Ocean. The literal jump into the ocean, a true polar plunge, may well come later on in the voyage.
National Geographic Explorer
Today was one of fullness. Full sun, full plates, full smiles. An exploration of Enterprise Island via Zodiac granted us looks at a pair of humpback whales that lifted tails fully out of the water. Because individual humpback flukes have distinct scarring, coloration, and shape, this allows for easy identification – with the right camera, of course. By uploading these images into an online database, both of these whales were recognized and one had even been previously logged from this very same ship, four years ago in the same location. A hike up Danco Island provided more than an eyeful of sweeping panoramic views of the stunning Errera Channel, flanked in all directions with towering ice-covered peaks. We spent several hours observing a bustling gentoo penguin colony; determined parents marching their way up their tamped down snow highways to feed chicks and relieve their mate so they can trudge down to the water and head out looking for sustenance. And just when it feels like there can’t be any more to squeeze into a single day, we spotted killer whales and enjoyed a transit through the ever-entrancing Lemaire Channel.