As National Geographic Explorer continued to sail into the New Year here in Antarctica, we arrived at James Ross Island. The beach was laden with ice, and we hiked into the epic landscape. On our way through the Erebus and Terror Gulf, we encountered a pod of killer whales in the middle of a hunt for penguins. We then arrived at Devil Island. Aboard our flotilla of Zodiacs, we toured the coastline to observe Adelie penguins. The sights, sounds, and smells of the colony were memorable.
National Geographic Resolution
The sun came out by 07:00 this morning and stayed with us all the way into Ushuaia. In the morning, we had two presentations. One covered the South Pole, and the other was on the early Antarctic explorers. After lunch, we had a wonderful display by sei whales in the Beagle Channel. Shortly after, our two divers demonstrated the underwater ROV and the cold-water dive equipment. In the evening, we attended the Captain’s Farewell in the Ice Lounge and auctioned the trip flag. The Beagle Channel was named for the HMS Beagle . The channel is south of the Strait of Magellan, and it is the last cut off for ships rounding South America to avoid the Drake Passage. It was named during the first voyage of the HMS Beagle around 1827. It was on the second voyage of the HMS Beagle that a naturalist named Charles Darwin was brought along. Darwin and the HMS Beagle spent months in the channel. In addition to his observations in the Galapagos, many of Darwin’s observations in this area led to his Theory of Evolution. The HMS Beagle was sent with 22 chronometers to fine tune the latitude of critical points around the world. Captain Robert Fitzroy was not funded by the British Navy to have a naturalist aboard, but he hired Darwin with his own money because he felt it was important. That decision was critical in how we now look at the natural world around us.