Rounding the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula and cruising down from the Bransfield Strait into Antarctic Sound, we woke up this morning to an amazing scene of the huge icecap on the Trinity Peninsula. We observed clusters of enormous tabular icebergs all around us. Our first planned landing at Brown Bluff was not possible due to winds from the north, so we made our way down to Devil Island, located in the Erebus and Terror Gulf. The water off the northern coast of this small mountainous island was completely full of small icebergs. This amazing natural sculpture garden was full of incredible shapes and the magical blues of Antarctic ice–a perfect place for a Zodiac cruise. In the afternoon, we made our way around the east cape of Vega Island and south to James Ross Island, where we made a landing in a true polar desert–a broad, rocky plain decorated with occasional brilliant patches of moss.
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.