On this last morning before crossing the open ocean towards South America, we were all ready for a last landing on Barrientos Island. This is an ice-free island in the Aitcho group in the South Shetland Islands. With winds exceeding fifty knots and a considerable swell, this plan was not feasible. However, Captain Oliver Kruess managed to place the ship in a perfect spot for viewing the colonies of chinstrap as well as gentoo penguins on the slopes ahead of us. Thanks to the vessel´s ultra-modern dynamic positioning system, National Geographic Endurance can stay perfectly still on a given position, which in this case provided perfect viewing at short distance from the island. Telescopes were set up on the bridge and the observation lounge, which enabled the guests to see the penguins up close.
During the afternoon, wonderful presentations introduced us to the importance of krill in the Antarctic ecosystem, as well as the characteristics and status of the whales of the Southern Ocean. The photo team also collected images that guests have been invited to share in the traditional voyage slideshow at the end of the trip.
During the whole day of sailing, various species of seabirds have soared around the ship. Light-mantled sooty albatrosses, a favorite albatross among birders, were also a special delight on this first day into the Drake Passage. The observation of an Antarctic petrel was another highlight, particularly as this species is normally associated with pack ice.
>We have now spent an amazing week around the Antarctic Peninsula, and we are riding the waves of the Drake with loads of great memories to reflect on.