Gentle waves rocked us to sleep on National Geographic Endurance until morning arrived. The sun broke through grey clouds, and beams of light cast luminous sparkles over everything. Royal and wandering albatrosses joined giant petrels in the sky. The birds soared and swirled above us with effortless motion.

Naturalist Conor Ryan gave a presentation about seabirds. We went on deck to watch the birds fly, near and far. Our new skills allowed us to identify various albatrosses and petrels. A small dancer of a bird sped by: a Wilson’s storm petrel. This tiny, mostly black bird flew with ease.

We prepared our outer gear for arrival. We vacuumed all Velcro straps to remove any hiding seed or plant material. Keeping the Antarctic pristine requires extra precautions.

The photo team on board gave a short presentation, offering further instruction in four breakout groups. Rich Kirchner, Sue Forbes, Michael Nolan and Ralph Hopkins dove into the world of photography, including exposure compensation, aperture priority mode, shutter speed and servo mode focusing.

The straight horizon against the moving sea was a constant as massive seabirds flew around the ship. We are in another world, where wind and water are in control.