Capt. Dion Poncet was born in a harbor in the South Shetland Islands to parents who traversed the western Antarctic Peninsula in a sailboat counting penguins. While humans have lived in the Arctic for 40,000 years, he's about as close as one gets to being a native of the White Continent. As a kid he lived on that sailboat. He carried sticks to ward off aggressive fur seals. He got whacked on the head by divebombing skuas hard enough to make him cry. Occasionally, mom gave him a clicker. He'd sit among the blue-eyed shags and crabeater seals and try counting penguins like a researcher. "It got pretty boring pretty quickly," Poncet recalls. Few people have seen more directly how much this place has changed. Here, he and his wife and first mate, Juliette, stand aboard their 87-foot Hans Hansson and check out calving glaciers in dazzling Wilhelmina Bay on a rare (this year, at least) sunny morning. Shot on #assignment for @natgeo@natgeopristineseas
Scientist w/the Australian Antarctic Program takes photos to identify the #humpback we tagged off Cuverville Island, along Antarctic Peninsula. Researchers attach orange video cameras to the whales, which track everything they see and do for 24 to 48 hours. They want to learn how the #cetaceans spend their time after arriving in January from equatorial homes near Panama. It's not just a curiosity. Thanks to #climatechange, there are now 80 more ice-free days here than 50 years ago. That is allowing humpback populations to explode even as #Adelie and #chinstrap penguin populations plummet. Like police officers, #Australian#polar researchers wear body cameras while at work in the field. Shot on #assignment for @natgeo@natgeopristineseas
Plump chinstrap penguins hop along basalt stacks at 4:30 a.m. on a bitter cold February in the Antarctic. Behind them a seal lazes on mounds of penguin tuft. We'd gone ashore before dawn near Turret Point on King George Island, sight of the first landing in the Antarctic. Royal Navy Capt. Edward Bransfield claimed the tiny speck for the British crown in January 1820, unaware that the king had died the previous morning. This spring, less than 200 years after humans first set foot here, the shore was lined with elephant, fur, Weddell and crabeater seals. The animals were so thick it was hard to walk w/out getting too close. As the sun rose, they grunted and snarled and barked, bobbing their heads at one another like fighters in the ring. Behind them, the tide retreated over pebbles on the beach, which sounded eerily like applause. It was stark and beautiful and otherworldly, like stepping back in time.
Happy birthday to my pal @paulnicklen Few are as good at what they do (I mean, look at this shot!!). And few care more about what they see through the lens. Happy birthday, P. Keep on keeping on.
The sea around the Antarctic Peninsula is a magical, fragile place; rich with wildlife, like this humpback whale feeding on krill. It is finally time to protect it.
This week in Moscow we representing @natgeo, @sea_legacy and @natgeopristineseas at #Antarctica2020, a meeting of the Ambassadors from the countries representing the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Living Resources #CCAMLR to begin the process of creating a network of Marine Protected Areas in Antarctica. Caption by @cristinamittermeier
If the subject isn't clear enough, you're not close enough. Rolled over from a post-run nap in a field this wkd to find this little fellow a few feet away. Pulling out my phone only seemed to draw him closer. What a ham. I ultimately had to wriggle my phone to urge him to scoot away. Oh, and yes - I was napping in a soccer goal. You take shade where you can find it.
I miss the rocks and scrub of J-Tree. Sometimes life just needs a little color. And nothing beats wildflower season at the edge of the Mohave Desert. #tbt
There comes a point in the writing of every story when I realize that no one gets me like @newyorkertoons cartoonist Zachary Kanin. I am at that point again. Sigh. #writingishard
Sunsets seem to last a lifetime in Antarctica in February. And yet still you find yourself wishing they'd go on just a bit longer. Never tire of these ridiculous colors. This one came at the end of a long day in Lemaire Channel, which @paulnicklen (accurately) described as "500 icebergs stacked in front of several Grand Tetons." W/ @ladzinski@andy_mann@pattersonimages@ianvaso@cristinamittermeier
Seeking inspiration. After a fantastic weekend with old friends and new, I now have to get back to work. Found myself struck by this image from February of filmmaker @lilienfrederic trying to grasp the colors and scale of ice in Antarctica. The world is changing way too quickly. And we can't yet even comprehend the consequences. We can do better. And let's not kid ourselves: we must.