Cruising in toward Paulet Island you had the sense of the adventure that awaited us this morning. The shore, and the hillsides were covered in Adelie Penguins! The medium walk along the beach back to the main landing site was filled with adventure, and wildlife of all sorts. Penguins, Weddell seals, Antarctic shags and a unique bird called the snowy sheathbill. The finale was a visit to the remains of an historic remains of a stone hut where 17 men of the Nordenskjold Expedition had to survive a winter. Next was an amazing ship cruise through countless massive tabular icebergs in the northern Weddell Sea. This was on our way to a group of islands known as the Danger Islands, where we were lucky enough to Zodiac cruise ice-filled waters with incredible scenery, Leopard Seals and an abundance of Adelie penguins. These islands hold probably a large percentage of the world’s Adelie population!
National Geographic Explorer
A visit to the Antarctic is packed with legends. This morning, we awoke in sight of Elephant Island, the location where the men of th e Endurance awaited rescue through the Antarctic winter at the beginning of the 20th century. Snow accumulated on deck as National Geographic Explorer made its way through a stiff cold breeze. We imagined the James Caird setting out into the Southern Ocean. It was a humbling reminder of the rigors of the Golden Age of Antarctic exploration and the people who risked their lives pushing boundaries at the bottom of the world. As we approached the bay where the seamen of the ill-fated Endurance awaited rescue, katabatic winds reaching 70 knots buffeted the ship. This was but the smallest preview of what those men endured as they awaited salvation, and it was fierce. Setting a course east, we traversed active waters. Seabirds were abundant, some passing by at a distance whilst others circled our ship. These ocean wanderers, at home in the gales of the high latitudes, always impress us by making a home in such an adverse climate. We counted many a whale blow in the distance. While passing over a seamount, several whales swam close enough to give us quite the show. A pair of fin whales surfaced near the ship long enough for everyone to get incredible views. From the upper decks, we looked down upon these massive animals and tried to picture just how huge they actually are. Despite the challenging conditions out on deck, we managed to stay cozy and dry aboard. Throughout the day, our staff offered presentations about Shackleton’s voyages and the cetaceans of our voyage. The galley kept us warm and happy with delicious drinks and snacks between the typical incredible meals. The day wrapped up with our usual recap before dinner as we steamed toward the eastern horizon and looked forward to another day at the bottom of the world.