Our good ship National Geographic Resolution left Ushuaia on the 19th of January at 18:00 and proceeded eastward, exiting a very calm Beagle Channel by 23:00. We were followed by black-browed albatrosses, and some fortunate guests even spotted a small pod of Peale’s dolphins.
During the night, we entered the Drake Passage. The morning call by Expedition Leader Sheri mentioned that the air temperature had dropped to 43°F, reminding us that we were sailing south towards the seventh continent: Antarctica. Fortunately, the winds remained fair with an average speed of 20 kn, and the cloud cover opened occasionally to reveal some bright sunrays over the waves.
Today’s program started with the formal introduction of the Expedition Team, where everybody briefly summarized their expertise and life history. Later, John Francis, National Geographic Expert, told us about his research on pinnipeds. He also spoke about the history of the partnership between National Geographic and Lindblad, highlighting the common goals of the two organizations: research, conservation, and education.
After lunch, seabird expert Bryan Holliday gave us a brilliant overview of the “Birds of Antarctica,” where he taught us about the identification of seabirds and the ecology of the species we have already spotted during the brief period since leaving port. He also spoke about the seabirds we are likely to observe during our voyage. One of the most important messages Bryan gave us is that we must be ready with binoculars, and we need to spend a lot of time on deck to fully enjoy these magnificent and hardy creatures. Shortly after this talk, we spotted giant petrels and a royal albatross behind the ship.
Luca Bustamante’s brilliant overview of tips and tricks for taking beautiful pictures with a smartphone will surely be handy in the days to come, especially those seldom used functions like motion-pictures, AE-AF lock, and slow motion.
To complete our day, and thanks to mild weather conditions, Captain Heidi Norling invited guests to a cocktail reception, where she welcomed everyone and introduced the ship and the officers.
We finished the day with a delicious dinner while speedily advancing towards our first sighting of Antarctica.