National Geographic Explorer departed South Georgia overnight, bound for Antarctica. Expedition leader Russ Evans has kept us busy, packing as much as possible into each and every day on South Georgia. We took every opportunity and made the most of being the only vessel in the region.
Our day at sea was the perfect opportunity to recharge our batteries and take stock of the truly exceptional experiences had on South Georgia. Conversations around the ship offered a diverse highlight reel of experiences, wildlife interactions, and, of course, the stunning scenery that is South Georgia.
As we reminisced, abundant wildlife was spotted from the Bridge, including beautiful passes by albatross, prions, and fulmars. As lunch approached, we spotted a tall whale blow on the horizon. The sea state prevented us from getting a clear glimpse, so there was much conjecture on the Bridge as to whether it was another fin whale, given we had encountered many this morning, or if it was the first blue whale of our voyage. Finally, a glimpse of the animal’s back and dorsal fin was all it took for naturalist Jamie Coleman to snap the crucial image that confirmed it was, in fact, a rare blue whale. The largest living animal on earth, the blue whale—along with the fin, sei, right, and humpback species—was exploited during the whale industry period, a few species to the brink of extinction. More frequent sightings of blue whales in these waters is an encouraging sign as the populations slowly recover.