The day started with our first views of beautiful ice-capped landscapes and the blows of humpback whales. We had made it to Antarctica! Everything seemed colder and whiter—we were very far south in Marguerite Bay, one of the most southerly bays of the peninsula. Named by French explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot during his discovery of the region in 1909, the bay sits above the location of the famous Wordie Ice Shelf.
To prepare us for our forays into the land of the penguins, naturalist Doug gave us a wonderful talk called “Penguins of the Antarctic Peninsula,” which focused on the amazing life and times of our soon-to-be penguin friends. He talked about how penguins found mates, had their penguin chicks, and raised them in an often-inhospitable world. He also talked about some of their favorite hobbies: standing on ice floes, collecting rocks, tobogganing on ice and snow, eating krill, and avoiding death by leopard seals.
After lunch we launched into operations—we were landing at Red Rock Ridge, full of nesting Adélie penguins, blue-eyed shags, and beautiful views of Weddell seals and Antarctic fur seals. The panoramic bay that Red Rock Ridge looked out into was strewn with amazing, sculptural icebergs as tall as skyscrapers with extraordinary pillars and arches. As we cruised the coast and enjoyed the incredible icebergs, storm petrels, fur seals and excitingly, crabeater seals, came to visit us.
On returning to the ship, we had dinner and Recap before heading out once again—this time for an evening exploration of the beautiful Porquois Pas Island. Spirits were high as we cruised in the incredible evening light, and some of us were lucky enough to see crabeater seals and the elusive apex predator—a leopard seal asleep on the floes around the glacial face that looked into the bay. An amazing end to a thrilling first day in Antarctica!