Barrientos & Deception Islands

Dec 10, 2018 - National Geographic Explorer

The South Shetland Islands and their textbook columnar basalt cliffs appeared shortly after breakfast this morning. We’ve arrived in Antarctica! By mid-morning, we got our first practice with parkas, life jackets, and Zodiac embarkation. All went smoothly for our trip over to Barrientos Island where we walked between gentoo and chinstrap penguin nests. It was our first experience waiting at penguin crossings and observing their signature behaviours, such as moving rocks back and forth to build and rebuild their nests. Their eggs will be hatching any day now.

After lunch, we heard from our guest National Geographic Explorers who spoke about glaciers from a variety of perspectives. They taught us Glaciology 101, explained some ways in which glaciers are intertwined with human communities, and talked about some of the dynamics of tidewater glaciers, which we’ll be seeing very soon.

By late afternoon, we’d reached Deception Island, a stunning caldera that we could enter through a small opening called Neptune’s Bellows. Whaling began here in the early 1900s and continued until 1931. The remains of the shore-based station—giant tanks, rusty old cookers, and accommodations for the workers who toiled here—are still standing. The beach is scattered with thousands of whale bones and bits and pieces of the infrastructure required for industrial whaling here in the Southern Ocean.

We have a long cruise ahead of us tonight, and an icy morning awaits as we sail into the Weddell Sea.

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About the Author

Jennifer Kingsley

National Geographic Explorer

Jennifer Kingsley is a Canadian journalist, a National Geographic Explorer, and the Field Correspondent for Lindblad Expeditions. She has travelled extensively in the global Arctic and throughout the temperate rain forest of the Pacific Rim. After completing her biology degree, she worked in Canada's Rocky Mountain National Parks before moving to British Columbia to specialize in grizzly bear ecology. Jennifer spent several seasons sailing among the whales, bears, and wolves of the Great Bear Rainforest. 

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