Our guests aboard National Geographic Orion awoke amidst meringue-capped mountains, glowing in the morning sun. We had arrived at a group of remote islands known as the Fish Islands, located just south of the Antarctic Circle along the Graham Land Coast. They were first chartered in 1934 by John Rymill’s land expedition. Our guests departed on Zodiacs for a morning excursion of wildlife viewing. Searching the ice-filled waters, we encountered numerous crabeater seals (Lobodon carcinophagus) hauled out on ice floes. Seals haulout on land and ice to rest, molt, and to give birth. Crabeater seals, also known as the krill-eater seals, are named due to their affinity for consuming krill, a small crustacean and keystone species in Antarctica. The Fish Islands are also home to some 4,000 Adéliepenguins, which nest on rock-barren islands. As our Zodiac approached the rookeries, our guests were able to view the chicks calling for their parents, some of which were arriving from out at sea.
After a hearty lunch, we landed and hiked around and explored nearby Prospect Point, which is the location of an old British Antarctic base known as “J.” Our guest then explored the ice-filled bay in kayaks, where they paddled among seals and penguins. To end the day, we offered lifetime opportunities to plunge into the freezing (exhilarating) waters of the Southern Ocean!