Elephant Island, 11/26/2021, National Geographic Explorer
National Geographic Explorer
As the day started, fog began to part and reveal Elephant Island, our destination for the day. This island was made famous by the story of Ernest Shackleton and the survival of his crew. National Geographic Explorer made its was through wind and waves and we were able to land on the island. We were treated to views of chinstrap and macaroni penguins and both elephant and leopard seals.
In the afternoon, the ship sailed to the historic Point Wild, the launching point for Shackleton as he left his men and sailed 800 miles to get help in South Georgia. For over 100 days his crew waited here, exposed to the elements, waiting for rescue. The day ended cruising through feeding fin whales and photographing elegant sea birds.
Naturalist, underwater videographer, captain, and historian, Adam Maire is dedicated to exploring around the globe with a goal of researching, documenting, and teaching others about the beauty, the power and the importance of the earth’s wild places....
Any true voyage contains the element of return. As we approached South America, we reflected on our voyage thus far. Nearly three weeks ago, we cast our lines from Ushuaia and sailed towards the seventh continent. We saw corners of the world privy only to a few…truly special experiences that we will hold close for our lifetimes. Seabirds circled the ship, coming in and out of our wake to pay visits. These beautiful animals wander the ocean. They are at home at sea, an alien concept to us terrestrial animals. As the day progressed, the landscape began to unravel. Snowy peaks in the distance eventually gave way to a forested landscape, quite a shock as we had not seen proper trees in weeks! For our final wildlife encounter, we spent time with a group of killer whales. Our incredible ship and bridge team allowed close and personal views of these amazing animals. Aboard the ship, we hosted presentations with topics on photography and how to take observations from our voyage and share them with the scientific community. The hotel department pampered us with delicious treats. Our much-anticipated auction was a lively hit, raising money for our crew fund and conservation on South Georgia. In the afternoon, we met our pilots on the eastern edge of the Beagle Channel. Under their guidance, we will be dockside in a few hours, the same location we departed from three weeks ago. It feels like a lifetime has passed, bursting with countless memories. Memories we look forward to taking home with us and sharing with our loved ones and the world.
Happy International Women’s Day! Today also turned out to be Great Albatross Day in the Falklands. We woke up just off West Point Island, which lies off the most northwestern point of mainland West Falkland. After breakfast, we took a short shuttle ride to a sheltered harbour just below the settlement. Most guests chose to hike across the island to a large colony of black-browed albatrosses and rockhopper penguins. Those who wanted a less strenuous crossing took a Land Rover to the colony. Afterwards, the hosts at the settlement provided a very generous serving of tea and pastries in the main house. In the afternoon, National Geographic Resolution repositioned to the south side of Steeple Jason, an island holding the second largest black-browed albatross colony in the world. An estimated 200,000 pairs of the species breed here. There are also gentoo penguins and a small number of rockhopper penguins nesting on the island. About half of the guests went ashore for a hike to the albatross colony, and the rest opted for a Zodiac cruise. After dinner, we all gathered in the Ice Lounge to watch the Guest Slideshow. What an amazing bunch of memories from our epic trip in the Southern Ocean!
We approached the Beagle Channel on our final day on board National Geographic Explorer . The winds had calmed, and the sun was shining. This resulted in the perfect opportunity to spot sei whales, which are often found in the waters of the Beagle Channel. Naturalist Sophie Van Der Hart provided us with the first lecture of the day, sharing insights about the evolution of whales. We learned how whales truly became the giants of our oceans. After lunch, climate change in the Antarctic was the topic for discussion. Naturalist Zac Brown guided us through the impacts this pristine environment is facing due to a rapidly changing climate and the things we can do to help. The afternoon’s activities came to a close with a delightful tea prepared by the hotel team. The captain’s farewell cocktail party gave us the chance to reflect on the expedition with a premiere of the guest slideshow. We celebrated a fantastic exploration of the Southern Ocean as the photos in the slideshow reminded us of the amazing wildlife and scenery we have witnessed along the way. Cheers!