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Elephant Island Cruises

This island probably got its name after the number of Elephant seals sighted by Captain George Powell in 1821. It lies at the extreme northeastern edge of the South Shetland Islands. Elephant Island achieved fame in 1916 when it became the 'home' for Shackleton's men for 4 bitter months when Shackleton set sail for South Georgia to obtain a rescue boat. If wondering why Shackleton tempted fate by sailing to South Georgia Island, some 1,300km north rather than, 200km south to Deception Island, it no doubt rested on the short-lived futile attempt spent battling the powerful clockwise-circulating Antarctic Circumpolar Current and winds.

Elephant Island is rarely visited by cruise ships as strong currents and winds make landing on the few steep rocky shores a treacherous task, even in the zodiac rafts. We were fortunate that one of our cruises had been chartered and with several descendants/relatives from the 1914-1916 Shackleton Expedition on board, our first landing was a rough and wet ride to Cape Lookout.