Each year, the Vancouver Aquarium organizes inspiring and eye-opening trips for people to explore unique parts of the world as part of our mission to better understand our world’s ecosystems. This year, a group of explorers will be joining Dr. John Nightingale, president and CEO of the Aquarium, on a once-in-a-lifetime expedition cruise to Antarctica, via the Falkland Islands and South Georgia.

Beginning this Sunday, January 27, the explorers will spend three nights in the Argentinean capital of Buenos Aires before traveling to the port city of Ushuaia, where they will board the research vessel Akademik loffe, and embark on a 19-day expedition with One Ocean Expeditions.

The first point of call will be the Falkland Islands, where the explorers will find a relatively warm climate featuring an abundance of unusual, thriving wildlife. The islands are inhabited by 60 species of migratory birds, as well as Megellanic penguins and the rare rockhopper penguin.

After a couple of days at sea, the next stop will be South Georgia, the most rugged island in the region, where king penguins in the hundreds of thousands cover every inch of the shoreline. Here, the group will also see fur seals, skuas, giant petrels and the majestic albatross, and will be able to pay their respects to the great explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, who is buried on the island.

Travelling further south across the Scotia Sea, the explorers will find themselves amid increasingly large icebergs as they near the South Orkney Islands. Stops are also planned at Coronation Island (weather permitting), the remote island of Laurie, home of an Argentinean meteorological station, and Elephant Island, where Shackleton and his crew took refuge in 1916 after their ship was destroyed by pack ice in the Weddell Sea.

Next, the group will spend time cruising among the South Shetland Islands just off the Antarctic Peninsula, where the explorers will see a dazzling array of wildlife – Adelie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins, and several species of seal. Weather permitting, the group will also visit the flooded caldera of Deception Island, with its rugged scenery, geological sites and an overwhelming display of whaling and scientific history. From here the explorers will take a shore excursion and set foot on the White Continent itself, weather permitting.

At this stage the expedition will be nearing its end and the explorers will cruise back to Ushuaia by again heading across the Antarctic Convergence and the Drake Passage before rounding Cape Horn.

Dr. Nightingale will be providing real-time updates during this expedition, so be sure to visit AquaBlog regularly for more stories from this journey to Antarctica.

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