Located at 60° south latitude, the South Orkney Islands are an archipelago far to the northeast of the Antarctic peninsula. A nearby trench and continuous water and storm movement cause a huge amount of nutrient-rich cold-water upwelling, creating a lot of primary production and megatons of biomass.
After a morning spent with plenty of whale sightings, we got out in the Zodiacs to explore the western fringe of Coronation Island. There we were treated to views of Weddell, leopard, and fur seals. Thousands of chinstrap penguins crowded every shore, and the air was filled with flying birds of many species. After barely surviving a Zodiac “attack” by friendly Vikings who brought us hot chocolate, we returned to our ship to be regaled with stories from the mountains by our National Geographic photographer, Tommy Heinrich. South Orkneys, you’ve outdone yourselves.