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Category Archives: Salisbury Plains
Today we awoke at anchor off the northwest coast of South Georgia with the waves beating off the jagged black rocks and white snow caped mountains stretching for the heavens. The wind was whipping foam off the waves but we dropped the zodiacs anyway and ran for cover into the sheltered bay named Elsehul. Once in the bay we were greeted by King Penguins, macaroni penguins and Gentoo penguins …. And of course the clamour of thousands of male fur seals vying for space on the beaches and the honour of taking a harem of female seals for the seasons mating.
Following a fun cruise in the zodiacs in the surge of southern ocean swell driving into the bay we upped anchor and sailed to Salisbury Plains where we spent the remainder of the evening with the second largest colony of king penguins on the island. Apart from the overwhelming aroma of digested fish, the second landing offered a kaleidoscope of colour as the kings paraded in their sunset orange plumage over the green grass, and many surges of adrenalin as we dodged the angry fur seals thronging on the beach.
Now we are again at anchor off Fortuna bay where we will embark upon the last leg of Shackleton’s walk tomorrow. So early to bed tonight to prepare for another big day!
This morning we were surrounded by the same thick fog that has clung to us for days except this morning the silence of the fog was pierced by a cacophony of seal cries echoing off the sheer cliffs that peeked through the white mist. We have arrived at South Georgia Island! This is an absolutely incredible place… like nothing on earth. We started the day with a zodiac ride in Elsehul harbour were we cruised past a swarming mass of fur seals all stridently crying out and barking. Above us albatross wheeled through the mist and grey headed, black-brow and light mantled sooties perched amongst the tussocks above us on their delicate nests. Macaroni penguins charged down the hills into the surging waters and king penguins stood proudly in the their neat colonies on the smooth shingle beaches. Meanwhile giant petrels feasted on the carcasses of fallen elephant seals only feet from their comrades still lounging on the thick rafts of kelp washed ashore. The entire busy beach is also bathed in the peculiar chummy odor of fur seal which brands this as South Georgia.
This introduction was followed by a visit to Salisbury Plains, home to the second largest king penguin colony in the world. Picture tens of thousands of stately penguins splashed with gorgeous colours of sunset orange spilling out from the beach into the green tussock. At the base of the colony juvenile kings in their scruffy coats of brown down wait patiently for a feed while occasionally engaging in a detailed investigation of a passing tourist. Stopping to gently mouth a proffered finger. Unfortunately to get to the colony you have to run the gauntlet of grumpy fur seals who have missed out on the seasons breeding and are looking to take it out on the soft looking bipeds wandering around in a daze. Only a couple of close calls for me but 200 kg of angry seal is something to treat with respect!
It’s good to be back after two years!