In the austral spring of October and November, 2023, director Henry Hughes and board member Eugene Jones traveled to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island, and the Antarctic Peninsula to experience, study, and report on wildlife, ocean conditions, ice, climate change, travel culture, and ecotourism.


We arrived in the Falkland Islands on October 21, fished for trout and mullet and explored this remote and politically controversial British Overseas Territory, 300 miles off the south coast of Patagonia, Argentina. Our ship, Sea Sprit, steamed from Stanley Harbor on October 28, anchoring off Bleaker Island on the Falklands archipelago, where we hiked to rockhopper penguin and southern cormorant breeding colonies.

Leaving the Falklands, we cruised 800 miles east—passing Shag Rocks, icebergs, and whales—to South Georgia Island, another British Overseas Territory. At Grytviken, a hamlet with a summer population of five, we examined the rusting ruins of an old whaling station and visited the mossy cemetery, pouring a splash of tribute whisky on the grave of explorer Ernest Shackleton.

South Georgia Island is teeming with wildlife: elephant and fur seals nursing their pups; nesting colonies of king, macaroni, and gentoo penguins; various species of albatrosses, petrels, and other seabirds. Kayaking brought us close to the kelp-forested, rocky coast, where three-ton bull elephant seals ruled the beach, and leopard seals hunted penguins.

At Salisbury Plain, we trekked to a colony of 60,000 breeding pairs of king penguins—their eggs and chicks harassed by hungry skuas and giant petrels.

Underway to the Antarctic Peninsula, albatrosses, terns, and petrels followed the ship; and after two days and 800 miles at sea, Elephant Island emerged through the icy fog. It was here that 22 members of Shackleton’s Endurance crew spent four and a half months waiting for their eventual rescue.

On the morning of November 6, we put our boots down on Portal Point, making our first continental landing in Antarctica amid gentoo and Adélie penguins. With temperatures well below freezing, we kayaked through a snow storm, admiring icebergs and Weddell seals. Later that day, with more heavy snow falling over Hughes Bay, our Zodiacs plowed through thick brash ice to approach humpback whales feeding on krill.

Sea Spirit continued through Gerlache Strait to Port Lockroy, the site of a British base nestled amid towering white mountains and glaciers. Penguins dove under our kayaks, crabeater seals lounged on icebergs, and a southern royal albatross glided overhead.

At Chiriguano Bay, we completed our last Zodiac operation below a towering glacial wall. Our guide, Eloisa Berrier—Argentine biologist, master kayaker, and educator—ordered us to put down our cameras and stop talking. We looked up at two-hundred feet of blue ice nipped by the wings of snow petrels. “How do feel?” Eloisa asked. “How do you feel about Antarctica? How do you feel about your world, yourself?”

The experience happened, but responses to those questions are still evolving.

The 18 days, 3,400 miles at sea, included onboard seminars and workshops in history, literature, oceanography, glaciology, meteorology, and zoology. We reported on avian flu mortality in South Georgia, ice formations in the Southern Ocean, and humpback whale migration. Eugene and I shot hundreds of photos and hours of video, filled notebooks, talked, listened and conducted interviews with passengers and crew members.