After leaving Salisbury Plain, we headed to Fortuna Bay which was a couple hours away by ship. Along the way we saw some pretty dramatic scenery, including glaciers that had made it from the mountains to the ocean.
The water around South Georgia is just full of life… you can always see seals or penguins swimming (we were too early to see the whales though). Just before we dropped anchor, I was in the ship’s lounge looking through the panoramic window and saw these little guys (and gals) heading to shore:
I always wondered how the crew got the zodiacs from the ship into the water. You can see in the next shot how they do it:
Before going ashore, the crew always goes out first and establishes a landing site – to see if it is safe enough to venture out. We were told that they always take emergency supplies (24 hours worth) such as water, food, etc., just in case a storm suddenly closes in on us and we are stranded on shore for a while. Remember, we cannot go in the zodiacs if the winds are in excess of 30 knots as the water would be too rough to return to the ship.
Fortunately, the weather conditions were still decent, so we got to go ashore. You can see a group of passengers boarding a zodiac from the Ocean Nova:
As I mentioned in my previous post, male Fur Seals are very territorial and can be quite aggressive. There was one seal that was giving us a particularly hard time, so Louise, one of our expedition staff (and resident historian) decided to deal with him in a unique manner.
There were seals everywhere – both Fur Seals and Elephant Seal pups (“weaners”). The weeners were pretty docile and were totally harmless, but we still need to keep back at least 10m from them.
If you look at the next shot of a weaner, I thought it was my dog in a seal costume. All these guys did is sleep and expel gas (maybe that is why the polar ice caps are melting – all that methane gas going into the atmosphere).
When the Norwegian explorers first came to South Georgia, they introduced Reindeer to the island and they are still there today. They are very skittish animals and kept their distance from us.
One small photography tip
When I first started studying wildlife photography, I learned a very useful expression: “Tourists photograph animals. Photographers photograph animal behaviour.”
I have many “nice” photographs of animals, but the ones I (and others) find truly special are the images where the animal is exhibiting some sort of interesting behaviour.
BTW, if you ever go to South Georgia, be prepared to come home with hundreds (if not thousands) of penguin photographs.
Like all of the other King Penguins we had encountered to date, these were just as curious about us. Again, sit/stand very still, don’t move for several minutes and they will approach you.
I finally made it to the King Penguin rookery – it was not as big as the one in Salisbury Plain, but it was still large nonetheless.
After a few hours exploring and just enjoying the penguins, it was time to head back to the beach for our zodiac ride back to the ship. Of course, you cannot go anywhere in South Georgia without encountering wildlife…
… or fellow passengers!
Our expedition leader told us that we were very fortunate with the weather as it can be very unforgiving here.
We are heading to Stomness Bay next, which is an abandoned whaling station. Let’s hope our luck with the weather doesn’t run out.
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