In the morning, National Geographic Endurance approached and stopped in Mikkelsen Harbour, a sheltered bay off Trinity Island. Our destination for the morning’s operation was D’Hainaut Island, a small (less than a square mile), rocky island in the middle of the bay with a colony of gentoo penguins. Most of the island was covered with snow with a few outcrops occupied by penguins. Guests were offered the option of visiting this island and walking along a one-kilometer snow trail prepared by the expedition staff in the early morning. Several Weddell seals were resting on snow just above the shoreline, and guests had an opportunity to see and photograph them from a short distance. A few whalebones and the carcass of a wooden boat covered by snow reminded guests of the area’s early 20th century whaling industry. Across the island, we observed an emergency hut erected by the government of Argentina for those who might need it. The space around the hut was densely covered by penguin nests to take advantage of the shelter from the wind. Not far from the hut, to the side of the penguin colony, a single elephant seal female rested on the ground.
After a delicious lunch, the ship sailed into spectacular Cierva Cove, a bay on the Antarctic Peninsula. Guests were offered Zodiac cruises, our last operation of the expedition. Several attractions awaited guests during the cruise. On the picturesque slope of a mountain, we observed the small red buildings that make up Primavera, the Argentinian station. A colony of gentoo penguins shared this space. In the bay, the penguins were porpoising in all directions, individually and in large groups. At the entrance to the cove of a rocky island, a chinstrap penguin colony was at the very top of the island. Steep penguin “highways” allowed us to observe that penguins are experienced rock climbers. Many impressive icebergs were scattered around the bay. One of them had a huge arch, so big that our ship easily sailed under it.
In the evening, guests enjoyed the talented crew show with energetic music that got everyone up to dance.