Drake Passage

Dec 27, 2019 - National Geographic Explorer

The sun deck on the aft end of National Geographic Explorer is a nice place to be. It is outside, mostly out of the wind, with a bit of roof to provide shelter from weather. It is a great place to look out, to ponder, and to gain perspective.

Today, if you were to follow our wake, you would arrive at the Antarctic Peninsula—our location yesterday. Today we were in the Drake Passage leaving Antarctica behind, though it lingers in our thoughts.

Even today, people were working on their memories. The photo kiosks were in constant use, with image after image of our voyage being displayed and evaluated. Folks were choosing what images they intended to submit for the voyage slideshow. Images were added, copied, and removed from the images-to-share folder. Even without a camera or smartphone you could put a pretty good image collection together of this voyage with the help of your adept fellow travelers.

And that was not all. There were lectures and events today, and even a bit of show and tell for kids of all ages by the undersea team.

The voyage is not over though until the big guy, our expedition leader Jimmy, announces it (please, no singing!) and that is not for a couple of days yet. There is still much to be learned and experienced.

Back on the sun deck, I watched our tireless entourage of seabirds: giant petrels, cape petrels, and others, sweeping back and forth, intently studying our wake and plopping down on the water for a tidbit stirred up by our ship. We are part of the ecosystem. We are on a high-speed iceberg with a shallow draft churning up resources for our entourage, much like the big icebergs do. We are not just here, we are not just travelers: we are connected to all in the sea and the air of Antarctica. How rare is that?

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About the Author

Dennis Cornejo


Dennis began scuba diving during the mid-1970s as part of a research project. At the time he was a research associate at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona, studying the population of winter hibernating sea turtles.  What began as a scientific study soon became a conservation project that expanded to three species of sea turtles along the entire Pacific coast of Mexico.  This project received major funding from the World Wildlife Fund and was eventually taken over directly by that agency with Kim Clifton and Dennis Cornejo as co-principal investigators.

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