With smooth seas, tropical temperatures, and sunburns, it’s hard to believe that we are in the Southern Ocean en route to Antarctica. Our first landing in the Falklands was celebrated as ‘A Zegrahm First’ because never before had the expedition been able to make first landing on day one—typically, we spend a full day at sea sailing from Ushuaia to the Falkland Islands. We celebrated by stepping ashore early evening at New Ireland and enjoyed sunset over a menagerie of black-browed albatross, rockhopper penguins, and imperial cormorants perched on cliffs high above the cold waters of the Scotia Sea.
Our up-close viewpoint of the great albatross and their chicks perched high above the ground on mud, straw, and iguana pedestal nests was certainly an amazing sight. Every few moments, as if on cue, they would launch into the air, unfold their mighty wings, and circle overhead. Then, like jumbo 747s, would power off into the sky later to return with a midnight snack for their chick. Each launch was a chorus of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the cliff top spectators.
We also had the privilege of meeting one of the local artists of the island, Tony Chaters. A great character, full of life and stories, he introduced us to Falkland Islands’ hospitality: similar to its landscape, it could be described as rough and raw, but compelling you to stay longer. As night fell, we reluctantly departed, but were left with a strong sense of the spirit of exploration.