Our next stop in Antarctica was at Paulet Island. There is an extremely large Adélie Penguin colony here and as soon as we landed our zodiac we could see them all over the beach. As I mentioned before, the Adélies are a little skittish by nature but at the same time, are very playful little creatures.
The beach we landed on was very narrow – we were told that the wildlife always the right of way (we are supposed to minimize disturbing them as much as possible), so we needed to tread carefully. As we walked along the beach, the following was a common sight:
Not only is Antarctica monochromatic in nature, so is the wildlife. The Adélie Penguins are no different and are beautiful little birds. A few of them were somewhat cooperative with me and I was able to get a few closeup shots:
During the spring and summer months, Antarctica has many other nesting birds. It is amazing considering what a barren and harsh place it can be at times.
Once in a while, we were able to see the occasional Kelp Gull. They are beautiful to see in flight:
Paulet Island was also home to a colony of nesting Blue Eyed Shags:
If you are wondering how the Blue Eyed Shag got its name, the following image will hopefully explain it to you:
We also saw many Sheathbills who are scavenger birds. They normally eat whatever they can find such as penguin
poop guano, however, they love stealing (and eating) eggs from nesting birds. Given the number of them on this island, it was only a matter of patience and time in order for the Sheathbill to have a feast.
The following Sheathbill managed to steal an egg from a nesting Blue Eyed Shag.
What I found most entertaining about the penguins was how they approach diving into the water. They all seem to walk down to the beach in single file and just wait for the “perfect” wave. Then en masse, they will dive into the incoming wave and be off on their way to feed.
A few penguins will be a little hesitant to dive into the water (why, I am not sure – it might have to do with predators such as the Leopard Seal), but eventually, they will go into the water.
Penguins are also unbelievable swimmers. Once in a while you will see one coming out the water like a torpedo:
Since we are still in the Weddell Sea, it was fitting to come across a couple of Weddell Seals on the beach. The next two images you see are of young seals. They didn’t seem too concerned about us, however, we still needed to keep our distance from them.
After a few hours on the island, it was time to head back to the ship for our next landing. Of course, no departure from any landing site is complete without a send off from a penguin:
Our next stop will at Brown Bluff which is actually on the continent of Antarctica. It will be our only chance to do so on this voyage so I have my fingers and toes crossed.
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