We’re at sea on the Drake Passage, which has been relatively calm—a good thing, because the Drake is legendary for its rough seas. It takes about two days to get from Ushuaia to the Antarctic Peninsula, and while there’s plenty to do on board—attend lectures, chat with fellow passengers, eat the terrific food—there’s not a lot to photograph.

But we do go through areas from time to time where you can see seabirds going about their lives not far from the ship. Yesterday there was a lot of bird activity, and I had a lot of fun hanging out on the deck trying to photograph them. I thought I’d share a few images with you.

First, a bird we saw not on the Drake Passage but back in the harbor at Ushuaia: a kelp gull.

I’m told we may see kelp gulls again in Antarctica.

Perhaps the most common bird we were seeing yesterday—or maybe it was just the one I could most readily identify—was a type of albatross called the black-browed albatross—named, I’m assuming, for its black “eyebrow.”

We also saw some cormorants, or shags, as they call them around here:

I think in the northern part of the Drake Passage, north of the Antarctic Convergence, they’re called imperial shags. The ones in Antarctica look somewhat different and are called blue-eyed shags. I think there’s some debate as to whether these constitute two different species, or just variants of the same species.

And a few skuas came by as well. I’m still learning about the seabirds down here, but based on a suggestion from my friend Lee Anne, I had spent 10 bucks on an Antarctic wildlife app before the trip. Based on that app, I’m going with Chilean skua for the guy below—but I’m hoping to get confirmation from someone who knows more than I do.

And finally, here’s a petrel of some sort. They’re in a category of birds called “tube noses” (as are many of the seabirds down here), with funny-looking beaks designed to expel salt. This one, I think, is a northern giant petrel.

I’m hoping to spend more time in deck today to see what other birds stop by.


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