The call on the PA system said “Emperor penguin sighted ahead!” We rushed to grab binoculars and cameras, and to find our favorite spot out on deck. On this ship, we are spoiled for choices from where to watch the local wildlife, but Deck 6 forward is my favorite. A young emperor penguin was watching us from its floe as we approached slowly. It delighted us with its regal looks, stretching here, flapping its flippers there, and even tobogganing across the ice in slow motion, as if showing its prowess to a faithful audience. Before moving on to the next adventure our guest scientist, Dr. Jane Younger, spotted some fresh penguin guano on the floe. Could she collect some samples for the research project she is conducting on board? “Indeed, she can!” said our expedition leader, and soon the two were on a Zodiac. It is wonderful to see a science program in action supported by Lindblad Expeditions, and to share its progress with our guests.
Just when we thought we couldn’t top the encounter with penguin royalty, a flotilla of tabular icebergs made for spectacular sailing before lunch! But the day wasn’t over yet— and killer whales were seen from the bridge. Exhilaration grew as we approach this pod, particularly when we confirmed that these were Type C killer whales, the Ross Sea specialist top predator and the smallest of its kind. We finished the day with a Zodiac cruise in one of the least-visited seas of Antarctica, the Amundsen Sea. Some curious Adelie and emperor penguins saw us sail around frozen floes and bergy bits, and a moody light provided great photo opportunities. What will tomorrow bring on this epic voyage?