Thursday, January 21, 2016

South Georgia Island and Farewell to the Deep South

The two voyages have come to an end and only South Georgia is left to report on. After four glorious weeks of sunshine in Antarctica, we were bound to pay the price with rain and snow. Oh well, some good shots were had anyway in this sub-Antarctic paradise.

Our first stop was at Grytviken, the former headquarters of the whaling operations that were undertaken here in the early 20th century. The former managers house has been turned in to a bang-up museum shown here.

Whale bones litter the grounds, which have now been cleaned up and stabilized by the British, who administer this island. In fact, Grytviken was the first place taken by the Argentines in the 1982 Falklands War.

The last time I was here in the early 2000's, all of this equipment was beneath rusting, dilapidated buildings. They have now been removed and the equipment is exposed to the elements.

Note the fur seal resting near there keel of the boat.

This is the Petrel, one of the last whaling boats to operate here. Whaling ceased here in the early 1960's as the stocks became depleted and everything has been aging since then. I first visited here in 1993 when things were not so far gone.

This church has been beautifully restored.

Inside of the church. The library still holds all of the books just to the left of the altar (out of view).


Tanks that rendered whale oil sit out in the pouring rain.

A replica of the James Caird, is located in the Museum. This was the boat that Shackleton took from Elephant Island to South Georgia in 1916.

Detail.

Sir Ernest Shackleton's grave at Grytviken. Shackleton came back to South Georgia in 1923 and died of a heart attack here. His wife radioed to bury him there where his final glory was attained.

Our only sunny morning came at St. Andrews Bay where we enjoyed a sunrise Zodiac ride ashore.

This gives you a sense of the dramatic South Georgia landscape. Here the glaciers are receding and there is lots of open ground. But the attraction here had to be the wildlife!

King penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) are many people's favorite penguin. They are colorful, graceful, and so much fun to watch and photograph. Check out the link provided to learn more.

Reflections.

Sharing the beach with the King penguins were nearly 200 southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonine). These are a hoot to watch!


The males are frequently scarred because they battle for the girls.

Here are two adolescent males who are sparring, getting training for later in life when they will fight other males to protect their harem.

Biting and sparring.

This guy had recently been in a fight and although bloodied, may have been the victor.

They have incredibly versatile backbones and often look over their shoulder to see who is nearby. This was a fantastic stop!

The third morning, we woke up to a summer snow storm.

Visibility was poor but it gave the area around Gold Harbor an eerie look.

Out for a cruise in the snow. This was about all from this day.

On our last morning, we went ashore at Fortuna Bay where I saw this light colored fur seal pup.

This was another snowy day but this fur seal didn't seem to mind.

King penguin trudging about half a mile from the beach to the colony in a blizzard.

Penguin tracks in fresh snow. How I longed for the sunny days in Antarctica!

But then, the colony of King penguins was attained and what a sight and sound of 15,000 pairs and their chicks.

This young King penguin has it's soft down still attached. 

The banned whaling station at Stromness, where Sir Ernest Shackleton walked into one April morning and announced his arrival.

Shackleton Falls after a 1.5 mile hike from the shore. Thank you for reading!

1 comment:

Toni Kaus said...

Thank you! 5,000 pairs of King Penguins, plus chicks. Wow.