We have spent the day south of the Antarctic Circle in Marguerite Bay, far enough south that at this time of year the sun never goes below the horizon, and there is no night. It was a great day to contemplate the breadth and range of conditions that shape our experience here. Our original intention was to visit Stonington Island, site of historic US and UK bases which were used periodically from the 1930s through the 1970s, but as we approached, the calm winds out in Marguerite Bay rapidly changed to ferocious katabatic winds, driven by air flow off the mainland ice sheet and tumbling down through the mountain valleys and over the surrounding glaciers. So off we went to explore alternative sites with more favorable conditions. We found ourselves amongst minute lichens, multi-hued rocks, brooding penguins, ridges of glacial debris, and a vast white plain of sea ice, surrounded by mountains and glaciers.
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.