Elephant Island, 11/26/2021, National Geographic Explorer
National Geographic Explorer
As the day started, fog began to part and reveal Elephant Island, our destination for the day. This island was made famous by the story of Ernest Shackleton and the survival of his crew. National Geographic Explorer made its was through wind and waves and we were able to land on the island. We were treated to views of chinstrap and macaroni penguins and both elephant and leopard seals.
In the afternoon, the ship sailed to the historic Point Wild, the launching point for Shackleton as he left his men and sailed 800 miles to get help in South Georgia. For over 100 days his crew waited here, exposed to the elements, waiting for rescue. The day ended cruising through feeding fin whales and photographing elegant sea birds.
Naturalist, underwater videographer, captain, and historian, Adam Maire is dedicated to exploring around the globe with a goal of researching, documenting, and teaching others about the beauty, the power and the importance of the earth’s wild places....
We approached the Beagle Channel on our final day on board National Geographic Explorer . The winds had calmed, and the sun was shining. This resulted in the perfect opportunity to spot sei whales, which are often found in the waters of the Beagle Channel. Naturalist Sophie Van Der Hart provided us with the first lecture of the day, sharing insights about the evolution of whales. We learned how whales truly became the giants of our oceans. After lunch, climate change in the Antarctic was the topic for discussion. Naturalist Zac Brown guided us through the impacts this pristine environment is facing due to a rapidly changing climate and the things we can do to help. The afternoon’s activities came to a close with a delightful tea prepared by the hotel team. The captain’s farewell cocktail party gave us the chance to reflect on the expedition with a premiere of the guest slideshow. We celebrated a fantastic exploration of the Southern Ocean as the photos in the slideshow reminded us of the amazing wildlife and scenery we have witnessed along the way. Cheers!
Today, we encountered civilization after several weeks in the wild. We approached the dock in the early morning, and after a delicious breakfast, we headed out to an amazing day full of activities in town and around East Falkland. During the morning, we had the opportunity to visit Yorke Bay and Gypsy Cove. Half a mile north of Port Stanley Airport and four miles to the northeast of the main town, Yorke Bay is located on a peninsula connected to the mainland by the Boxer Bridge and a narrow isthmus known as "The Neck." Gypsy Cove is a smaller bay located on the west side of Yorke Bay. This beautiful place is home to many wildlife species such as Magellanic penguins and other birds, but it also carries a dark history. The bay was heavily mined during the conflict back in 1982. Some of us made an amazing visit to the hydroponic garden with Lila. The nursery produces Mediterranean-style vegetables and even strawberries in vast greenhouses outside Stanley. A must-do was a visit to town. Some guests joined a Stanley Highlights Tour and others took off independently. We enjoyed walking around these picturesque streets, and we visited the museum, the post office, and the gift shops. We had a delicious lunch with the locals. During the afternoon, some of us headed out with Carl Erik and a local guide for a hike to Mount William. After all these amazing activities, a final walk, and tea in town, we returned to National Geographic Resolution and headed out to sea.
Today’s destination was the New Island group, a series of nine islands found in the southwest of the Falkland Islands. The largest of the group is New Island, surrounded by eight smaller islands. This group is monitored and managed by the Falkland Islands Conservation group, which is largely supported by tourism operations. Through continued protection, this wildlife haven has attracted large numbers of a variety of species, eventually leading to it being classified as a Key Biodiversity Area (KBA). Fortunately, this is a stark contrast to the island’s early history of whaling and habitat destruction. After breakfast, guests departed for shore in Zodiacs, arriving on the white sandy beaches of New Island. We hiked a short distance across the island to access a large rockhopper penguin colony and a thriving black-browed albatross colony. Upon arrival, two macaroni penguins were discovered at the base of the colony. We enjoyed the sunshine and a little wind as we perused the colony and took in the cliffside views. After returning to the beach, guests visited a small museum and gift shop supported by New Islanders. The museum was originally erected on the site of a rough stone shelter built by a shipwrecked captain and his four crew members. Several ongoing scientific projects are underway on the island. The projects focus on several species, including gentoo penguins, white-chinned petrels, Falkland skuas, imperial cormorants, Upland geese, and striated caracaras. After leaving the island for lunch, National Geographic Explorer departed for Ushuaia. We enjoyed several afternoon presentations from the naturalists before the evening got underway.