Today, National Geographic Explorer explored the Antarctic Sound. We started the day with a beautiful, sunny morning at Brown Bluff. While the growing swell prevented us from landing near the penguin colonies, we were able to take spectacular Zodiac cruises along the shore. We observed numerous Adelie and a few chinstrap penguins, penguin chicks, and some ever-present predators, including leopard seals and skuas. For several guests, one of the day’s highlights was when our Zodiacs collected an extra passenger. Four times during our Zodiac cruises, penguins boarded our boats! After a quick break from swimming, each penguin successfully returned to the water.
We enjoyed on board presentations. Naturalist Gerald Baker shared a presentation on the history of Antarctic exploration, and guest speaker Nicholas Cassar from Duke University presented on how Antarctica influences global climate systems. Expedition diver Brett Garner gave a presentation about diving in Antarctica, and I gave a presentation about snow and ice.
High winds foiled our attempt at an afternoon landing, but we enjoyed observing a humpback whale feeding near massive icebergs on our cruise south. Several members of the naturalist staff were able to photograph the tail fluke in hopes of contributing our observations to the Happy Whale citizen science project. We were treated to spectacular views of countless waterfalls descending from the melting glaciers along the northern walls of Vega Island. The scenery was illuminated by dramatic afternoon light.