National Geographic Orion woke up to an iceberg in her parking spot today at Neko Harbor. But never fear! The captain and the bridge team maneuvered her into a different position, which allowed us to set foot on the continent of Antarctica. We had a glorious morning exploring Neko Harbor; watching Gentoo penguin and skua shenanigans. When they were not backed up in the morning traffic of the penguin superhighways, Gentoos were in classic thievery mode with lots and lots of rock stealing.
There were no chicks yet, but we saw plenty of penguins sitting on eggs – not to mention the occasional broken egg that had become a Skua snack. The weather was mild and as we sailed from Neko, along the Neumayer Channel, the sun beamed glorious sunlight down on upon us. After lunch, we arrived at Port Lockroy in full sun with glistening ice all around us. We spent some time both at Base A, the location of the penguin post office and Bransfield House and historical museum, and at Jougla Point where we watched Antarctic Shags and Gentoo Penguins baking in the sun. Both species were clearly restless from the warmer temperature, and we witnessed birds panting and sprawled out on the snow in an attempt to cool down.
There was also an interesting collection of whale bones peeking out from the crystal, sparkling snow. The relics are a combination of both humpback and fin whale remains leftover from the whaling era. Gentoos walked passed the bones without much notice and a Weddell Seal slept lazily on the ice with the backdrop of the stunning Seven Sister Mountains, covered in snow and surrounded by bright blue sky. The day was not over yet, however. As we sailed from Port Lockroy and enjoyed our dinner meal, the crew prepared for the illustrious Orion staff show! Such a satisfying end to a perfect day.