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Cierva Cove -- leopard seals, whales, vistas, glory!
Antarctica - pure awe for 19 days...

Leopard SealLeopard Seal (Peyton McCollum)
Wow! We started the morning in what would be our coldest adventure - a couple hours in the snow on the zodiacs... just a thin piece of rubber between you and the icy depths! That said, this might have been my favorite adventure to date! Icebergs covered in fluffy snow surrounded by mysterious fog, and then out of the darkness a leopard seal appeared! It taunted us circling the zodiacs, breathing loudly at the surface, jumping up on ice floats, gracefully sliding back in.... it was beautiful. They average around 10 feet in length, and are voracious hunters, so to be so close was frightening yet fantastic. We saw several more en-route back to the ship. Thinking all was perfect in the world, from on deck a warning call was made that whales were nearby. Nearby is an understatement! We had five Humpback Whales circle the ship for about 30 minutes. We all just followed around in circles with awe and excitement! I finally got a great photo of a whale tail as they were diving below the surface! I had a similar poster over my bed as a little girl so this was one of my personal missions for the trip. And just when you thought you couldn't believe there could be more, we landed at Orne Island in the late afternoon. The weather was glorious, and Chinstrap Penguins waddled about. From the peaks of Orne, you could see for miles and miles the beauty of Antarctica. We had a full minute of silence during which a pod of whales breached the water surface below and albatross swooped overhead. I will never be able to recapture that moment in time but it left me breathless and so appreciative of the journey that took me to this beautiful place. We found out after the trip that two of my friends from the ship actually got engaged at that beautiful peak. They were traveling around the world together for a year and I can't imagine a more memorable location to plan their lives together. Sunset as we sailed through the Errera Channel just capped off what was indeed a magical day!!

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