National Geographic Orion is navigating along the southernmost region of the American continent following the routes of early voyagers and explorers. Staten Island is our destination for today and we are very excited to set a foot on this rocky island with forests of evergreen beech and winter bark trees. This island is home to South American sealions, giant petrels, kelp gulls and many other birds. It is also the place where the legendary Les Éclaireurs, or “Lighthouse at the End of the World,” is located: This being the inspiration for the French writer Jules Verne.
The morning weather was fine, and we disembarked for an exploration walk through the forest in order to visit the legendary lighthouse. The diversity of plants is quite unique. All of them green some have berries and others are full of flowers. Once at the light house we enjoyed the amazing views of San Juan de Salvamento Bay. From Les Éclaireurs we could see the kelp forest that is home to cormorants and many marine organisms. As we looked for birds, we briefly spotted a pair of South American sea lions. The ocean surrounding this island is cold and very productive which explains the presence of penguins, giant petrels and black-browed albatrosses.
In the afternoon we had time at sea as we follow our course towards the Argentinian city of Ushuaia. This region is windy, and these wind currents are the mechanisms used by large sea birds in order to glide long distances in search of food. This navigation was not the exception as we had sea birds all along our journey, and as an added highlight we also had whales spouting in front of the ship as we navigated the Beagle Channel.
What an unforgettable day!