Today was our last day of exploration in the Weddell Sea. We were lucky enough to take a Zodiac cruise around Paulet Island, where the Nordenskjold expedition was stranded with a cat. Later, we went to Tay Head, a beautiful area where we took hikes of various lengths and enjoyed lots of wildlife, including elephant seals, fur seals, Weddell seals, a colony of Adélie penguins, and a juvenile emperor penguin! Today was certainly a great day!
National Geographic Endurance
This morning’s fog and swell conspired to make it a great day for parlour activities. We saw many guests reading or engaged in games of cards, Scrabble, and the like. We also had some talks planned. First off, Tiphanie May spoke on the weird and wonderful creatures of the sea while recounting her earlier years as a Fisheries Observer on commercial fishing ships in the waters of the Falklands! While involved in observing these ships for compliance, she saw the deepest dwelling fish in the sea (the snailfish), giant squid, and fish that have absolutely no haemoglobin in their blood (the icefish)! Shortly after Tiphanie’s talk, a pod of pilot whales were briefly spotted from the bow, a new species for this expedition! Our next presenter was Conor Ryan who spoke on, “The Smell of the Sea.” Conor educated us on the actual source of the smell (dimethyl sulfide). He gave us insights into original research he’s doing on why the release of this compound by diatoms has implications for the successful feeding of whales, and he even coached us on how to pass through airport security without any liquids! You just don’t get talks with that breadth anywhere else! Throughout the afternoon, the staff worked with guests to complete maps of our travels, fill in wildlife lists, and help to spot one or two more species from the bridge. Our hotel staff was busy preparing for our final wine and cheese tasting followed by the captain’s farewell dinner aboard National Geographic Endurance. It has been an amazing journey. Many new acquaintances turned into good friends, and guests are busy gathering contact info before their fellow travellers scatter, once again, to the four corners of the Earth.