Tonight we enjoyed an exciting final encounter with the Antarctic coastline and some of its most iconic wildlife–type B2 killer whales!–before transiting to the waters that define the White Continent. All on board National Geographic Endurance enjoyed spending time on the bridge and open decks. We spotted Southern Ocean seabirds, such as pintado petrels and southern royal albatrosses, as they glided in the sunshine and salt spray! Seabird spotting sessions were squeezed in between a full schedule of presentations by the naturalists that offered guests a closer look at some of the subjects we have encountered during our expedition, including krill, ocean currents, and geologic processes. We may be leaving Antarctica behind, but the moments we have shared, the questions we have been inspired to ask, and the conversations we have started during our time exploring this vast wilderness will stay with us as we continue our journey back north and beyond!
National Geographic Endurance
This morning’s fog and swell conspired to make it a great day for parlour activities. We saw many guests reading or engaged in games of cards, Scrabble, and the like. We also had some talks planned. First off, Tiphanie May spoke on the weird and wonderful creatures of the sea while recounting her earlier years as a Fisheries Observer on commercial fishing ships in the waters of the Falklands! While involved in observing these ships for compliance, she saw the deepest dwelling fish in the sea (the snailfish), giant squid, and fish that have absolutely no haemoglobin in their blood (the icefish)! Shortly after Tiphanie’s talk, a pod of pilot whales were briefly spotted from the bow, a new species for this expedition! Our next presenter was Conor Ryan who spoke on, “The Smell of the Sea.” Conor educated us on the actual source of the smell (dimethyl sulfide). He gave us insights into original research he’s doing on why the release of this compound by diatoms has implications for the successful feeding of whales, and he even coached us on how to pass through airport security without any liquids! You just don’t get talks with that breadth anywhere else! Throughout the afternoon, the staff worked with guests to complete maps of our travels, fill in wildlife lists, and help to spot one or two more species from the bridge. Our hotel staff was busy preparing for our final wine and cheese tasting followed by the captain’s farewell dinner aboard National Geographic Endurance. It has been an amazing journey. Many new acquaintances turned into good friends, and guests are busy gathering contact info before their fellow travellers scatter, once again, to the four corners of the Earth.