Following two wonderful days exploring the Falkland Islands, enjoying the company of thousands of nesting seabirds and penguins as well as personal stories shared by island residents, we have taken to the open ocean for our first passage. National Geographic Explorer will transit nearly 900 nautical miles from East Falkland to South Georgia, heading just south of east across fortunately calm seas.
The Falklands are located on the continental shelf of South America, bathed by a mix of warm coastal currents flowing south from the tropics and sub-polar cool waters. South Georgia, on the other hand, is surrounded by the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which transports very cold water around the Southern Ocean and shapes the island’s (and Antarctica’s) climate. As we sail, the sea temperature changes dramatically: from seven degrees Celsius at the Falklands, to four degrees Celsius this afternoon, to just under one degree at our next destination! Each time we ventured out on deck to observe wildlife, capture a photo, or take in the fresh air, we had to recalibrate how many jackets to don.
Our hours today were busy with essential information and activities, all in preparation for the upcoming stop. This morning was focused on cleaning boots, packs, and outerwear with great attention to detail, as South Georgia has stringent biosecurity requirements in place to protect their wildlife and ecosystems from invasive species, pests, or disease. Later, photographers of all skill levels learned new composition and camera strategies from our team of instructors, and we were introduced to common seabirds of the region.