Beagle Channel, South Atlantic & New Island

Steve Morello, Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

  • Daily Expedition Reports
  • 26 Oct 2019

Beagle Channel, South Atlantic & New Island, 10/26/2019, National Geographic Explorer

  • Aboard the National Geographic Explorer
  • Antarctica

During the night we quietly sailed through the Beagle Channel, and in the early hours of the morning headed through the Le Maire Strait before setting our course for the Falkland Islands. We progressed from calm waters to the jousty strait and then into a head-on sea that got progressively worse for the rest of the day. Well not quite, in the late afternoon the winds dropped and soon the sea conditions began to abate. By dinner time, we were approaching the Falkland Islands, our first landfall being New Island. As with many of the westernmost islands, here the west coast is often made up of dramatic cliffs which gradually slope towards the eastern shoreline, which is often a beautiful, pale yellow quartzite sandy beach. By the end of dinner we were safely anchored off tomorrow’s landing beach and this would mean we could all settle in for a quiet night.

However, this is only part of the story for there were seabirds galore as well as a number of marine mammals spotted on the crossing. We saw fin whales, a solitary humpback whale as well as sea lions and dolphins. But it was undoubtedly the pelagic seabirds that most captivated us as they showed off their utter mastery of the conditions.

The giants of the Southern Ocean were seen all day, wandering albatross as well as northern and southern royal albatross. We tried to get our heads around the fact that all the royal abatross were hatched and reared in New Zealand! Plus, other seabirds were regularly seen throughout the day: pintado petrels, southern giant petrels, southern fulmars, many sooty shearwaters, as well as the small storm petrels.

During the day there was a chance to meet the expedition team as well as several presentations, giving all aboard excellent opportunities to get to know the places we will be visiting a little better.

As the ship lay quietly at anchor under the beautiful evening sunlight we headed for our beds looking forward to the adventures that await us tomorrow.

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