We woke up to a windy and partly foggy morning as National Geographic Explorer cruised northwards towards Gourdin Island, located near the entrance of the Antarctic Sound. With such weather conditions, the planned Zodiac cruise was not a tempting option. Instead, Krista Rossow, our National Geographic photographer, gave an engaging presentation on how to get the most out of your iPhone for photography. Just about every guest on the ship carried a smartphone, and Krista’s intro was a very welcome lesson.
During the morning, we entered into the Antarctic Sound, named after the ship Antarctic. The ship was used by geologist and geographer Otto Nordenskiöld on his Swedish Antarctic expedition from 1901-1904.
After lunch, we were ready for a landing at Brown Bluff on the western side of the Antarctic Sound. This continental site holds a large colony of Adelie penguins and a small amount of gentoos. With its beautiful volcanic rock formations, Brown Bluff is also a very special spot for geologists. The landing was initially enveloped in a bit of fog, but the weather gradually cleared into sunny skies. We were delighted to see so many chicks of Adelies as well as gentoos. We are fortunate that we have seen all three brush-tailed penguins that breed in Antarctica on this expedition: gentoo, chinstrap and Adélie penguins.
When we came back from the shore, those who wanted to test the cold water took a polar plunge from a Zodiac tied up shipside. The hardy guests who braved the plunge were refreshed by a water temperature of minus one degree Celsius!
Over the last few days, we were fortunate to go ashore at several spots along the Antarctic Peninsula, including a couple of landings on the Antarctic continent itself. We will now be heading northeast toward Elephant Island and then proceed further toward South Georgia. We are excited to think of the wonders still waiting for us on this epic journey in the far south.