Antarctica Day 1: Global Luminary in Residence

Last year’s TED Mission Blue conference in the Galapagos Islands took place on board the National Geographic Endeavor, in association with Lindblad Expeditions. After the conference I wrote to Sven Lindblad, suggesting they might want an ocean rower to come and speak on some forthcoming trip. He wrote back saying “How about Antarctica?”

Jackpot!

All aboard! The National Geographic Explorer

So here I am, now on board the National Geographic Explorer, cruising through the Beagle Passage as I write.

Today started early, WAY too early, in Santiago, Chile. We flew to Ushuaia, Argentina, which claims to be the End of the Earth. I have a whole ocean of ideas about the End of the Earth, but that’s another story. Let’s just take it geographically for now.

We landed in Ushuaia around noon, and walked the last section of Highway 3, the Pan American Highway, down to Pataia Bay. There was a dramatic drop in temperature. “It’s a bit chilly (Chile), or rather, a bit Argentina,” I joked lamely to a fellow traveller. She didn’t get it. Not surprising really.

From there we took a boat, via various malodorous colonies of seals and birds, back to Ushuaia, where we boarded the ship that will be our home for the next 10 days. Tomorrow we face the Drake Passage, one of the most notorious stretches of water in the world. Will it be Drake Lake or Drake Shake? The forecast is good, but many of my fellow voyagers are already sporting sea sickness patches behind their ears Рjust in case.

T’would be most embarrassing if the resident “Global Luminary” (don’t ask me, I didn’t create my job description) was chucking up over the side. So I will attempt to maintain a truly British stiff upper lip, and cast iron stomach, and staunch sea legs….. and fingers crossed. (All sounds rather contortionist and uncomfortable.)

I will do my best to post regular updates over the coming days, but we have been warned that internet access may decline as we reach more extreme latitudes. And we know that internet access from boats can be extremely trying…. Meanwhile, keep an eye on the Daily Expedition Reports from on board – the expedition lead team will no doubt have better-informed updates on daily events. They may even know what the “birds” are….

Sealions of very different degrees of cuteness

Birds. Can anybody give me a more precise identification?!

Pataia Bay

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  • http://twitter.com/Bill_Spinks Bill Spinks

    Seems like you’re just like a feather, Roz…the wind blows, and there you go….who knows where you’ll land. Have a great time…will be looking for posts every day, now.

  • Goldplatedshovel

    The birds look like cormorants to me, but with a white belly! Sorry I can’t be of help. Wonderful you got this opportunity, my friend Charlie and his wife were there two years ago, they have a photo of themselves with the penguins on the ice there in Antarctica! Cool (figuratively and actually I guess!!) Have fun, the motion of a ship is a lot different than the rowboat, but you will be fine. Love it!!

  • Cp

    Looks like fun. If you stop in McMurdo and run into my friends from Rutgers, say hi from Chris in Monterey.

  • Doctorwen

    Roz, the birds are Shags. Have a great trip! I was there a year ago and loved it!

  • Carl Safina

    Have a GREAT time. Wonderful region of the world.

  • http://twitter.com/Doug350 Doug 350 Grandt

    You are so funny!
    Sometimes I can’t stop myself
    From laughing out loud
    LOL ;-D

  • Goldplatedshovel

    Interestingly sometimes the same species is called a cormorant in one part of the world and a shag in another, e.g., the Great Cormorant is called the Black Shag in New Zealand. So you can call them either shags or cormorants! Way to go!

  • margo

    oh have fun!! This would be Billy’s dream trip!! He wants to go to Antarctica more than any place on the planet.

  • Richard Parslow

    The common cormorant or shag
    Lays eggs inside a paper bag
    The reason you will see no doubt
    Is to keep the lightning out
    But these unobservant birds
    Do not realise that herds
    Of wandering bears may come with buns…
    And steal the bags to hold the crumbs.

    (Christopher Isherwood)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1532019852 Joan Sherwood

    I would have laughed at the chilly/Chile/Argentina joke, Roz. Have a wonderful trip! Wishing you a Drake Lake at least during your presentation. All that tossing about could distract your audience.

  • Louise

    Blue eyed shags, to be precise. That’s what lives in Antarctica…enjoy your trip, Roz!! (This is what I do for a living…kayak guide aboard the Plancius. Say hello to it when you next see it.) ENJOYing is the easy part!!!