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....
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!
Today’s destination was the New Island group, a series of nine islands found in the southwest of the Falkland Islands. The largest of the group is New Island, surrounded by eight smaller islands. This group is monitored and managed by the Falkland Islands Conservation group, which is largely supported by tourism operations. Through continued protection, this wildlife haven has attracted large numbers of a variety of species, eventually leading to it being classified as a Key Biodiversity Area (KBA). Fortunately, this is a stark contrast to the island’s early history of whaling and habitat destruction. After breakfast, guests departed for shore in Zodiacs, arriving on the white sandy beaches of New Island. We hiked a short distance across the island to access a large rockhopper penguin colony and a thriving black-browed albatross colony. Upon arrival, two macaroni penguins were discovered at the base of the colony. We enjoyed the sunshine and a little wind as we perused the colony and took in the cliffside views. After returning to the beach, guests visited a small museum and gift shop supported by New Islanders. The museum was originally erected on the site of a rough stone shelter built by a shipwrecked captain and his four crew members. Several ongoing scientific projects are underway on the island. The projects focus on several species, including gentoo penguins, white-chinned petrels, Falkland skuas, imperial cormorants, Upland geese, and striated caracaras. After leaving the island for lunch, National Geographic Explorer departed for Ushuaia. We enjoyed several afternoon presentations from the naturalists before the evening got underway.
Today we explored two of the most beautiful islands in the Falklands’ archipelago. West Point has a wonderful settlement and nice colonies of black-browed albatrosses and rockhopper penguins. Carcass has colonies of gentoo and Magellanic penguins. In Carcass, we also find the endemic and unique Cobb’s wren, which only inhabits rat-free islands. Plenty of other wildlife is found at these two wonderful sites. We had a wonderful teatime on Carcass. Interestingly, West Point has a deep connection to Lindblad Expeditions, as some of the ashes of Lars Eric Lindblad are scattered in a beautiful corner of the garden in West Point. Enter the garden, pass the house, go through the trees, and you will find a secluded grassy area with an oval-shaped area full of beautiful plants. This is the location. Certainly, a wonderful place to be for eternity. After wonderful wildlife sightings, cookies, winds, plants, and a spiritual connection to nature, we went ahead with our expedition.