We left the Falkland Islands on 1 March and arrived in South Georgia on 4 March. For a great overview of South Georgia history plus some fabulous pictures, check The Encyclopedia of Earth website.

Wandering AlbatrossWhile at sea, in addition to lectures, films and the excellent food & drink, we also enjoyed watching the sea birds and a few sea mammals.

The Wandering Albatross is the largest flying bird with a wingspan of up to 12 feet. (Scale is hard to judge at sea.)

Shag RocksThe last day out we passed close to Shag Rocks, which are rocky prominences rising from the depths of the South Atlantic.

These six small islands, inhabited only by sea birds, are located on the South Georgia ridge south of the Antarctic Convergence and 150 miles west of the main island.

This picture shows why we didn't have great star-gazing conditions.

The still picture is deceiving -- the ship was bucking here! One of our fellow travelers sent us a video he made of these rocks. He was having trouble keeping his feet while holding the camera!

Prion IslandWhen we reached South Georgia, our first planned stop in Right Whale Bay was unsafe for landing due to high winds, but we had a successful visit to Prion Island in the Bay of Isles.

Our landing site was on the far side of this point. It was not a dry landing!

Booting up

One of our tasks during the days at sea was scrubbing down the clothes we would be wearing for South Georgia landings to remove any seeds that may have caught in cuffs or seams of our clothing -- especially Velcro fasteners.

Prior to all our "wet" landings we booted up in the stern of the ship where our boots were stored in lockers. We then waded through disinfectant solutions before climbing into Zodiacs. We repeated this procedure on our way back to ensure that we carried no germs from one site to another.

Wildlife Our Zodiacs landed on this cobbled beach populated by Southern Fur Seals and a variety of penguins and other birds. All the seals were females and well-grown pups. The males had already left for parts unknown.

It continues to amaze me how well the various animals tolerated each other and (usually) us. The seals could be aggressive -- perhaps they haven't forgiven humans for hunting them to near-extinction.

Hikers on Prion Island 

The boardwalk had been built to protect the environment, but we weren't the only ones that found it a useful thoroughfare.

Ken Wright (in blue) was one of the expedition staff. He is a naturalist from Lillooet, Canada.

Wandering AlbatrossThe Wandering Albatross breeds on Prion Island. We saw several birds on their mud nests. Unfortunately there is no way to get a sense of the size of these magnificent creatures.

Bay of IslesSeals are scattered throughout the tussock clumps. They have recovered well from their dangerously low numbers in the early 20th century. According to the Red List of threatened species they are in the category of "least concern" although their population is decreasing.

South Georgia PipitWe were treated to a sighting of the rare South Georgia Pipit, the most southerly of the songbirds. This bird was found on Prion Island because it is free from rats, which were accidentally introduced on the South Georgia mainland and several of the nearby islands. Since the time of our visit, conservationists have eradicated rats from the main island -- a rare success story.

ZodiacJim elected not to go to Prion Island, so he was able to catch this picture of me returning on the Zodiac. We were all issued coats suitable for the sub-Antarctic climate. Almost everyone had red coats, but I and one other woman had specified a small size and our coats were blue. Oddly, they weren't just small, they were "youth" coats.

Salisbury PlainOur next stop for the day will be Salisbury Plain, which is the more-or-less flat spot between the peaks -- one of the few flat areas on South Georgia. It was briefly considered for an airstrip immediately after the Falklands War, but that idea died an unlamented death. We will be visiting a King Penguin colony there.

Wish you were here

As we approached the beach we could see numerous King Penguins in the water. They look somewhat like ducks, but most of their bodies are under water. Of course their "flight" is completely under water where their flippers function as wings.

Some other penguin species porpoise when they are swimming near the surface. Makes it difficult to get a picture of them, but they are fun to watch.

I was glad to see that the staff of the ship also got to make shore visits. Most of them were from the Philippines and were saving money for their families back home, but they told us that they relished the opportunity to see the world. They had a rotating schedule of when they could come ashore.

Courting kingsThe King Penguin breeding cycle, which is rather longer than a year, is unique. A colony will have birds in all stages of courtship and development. The irregularity of the cycle means that Kings do not form long-term bonds. They mate only for one breeding cycle.

These two birds are courting. They are very graceful and tender together.

Brooding KingsThis group of birds is brooding eggs. Kings, like Emperor Penguins, do not have nests. They keep the eggs on their feet throughout the time of brooding. There is a special opening in their feathers that allows the egg to make direct skin contact for maximum warmth. One bird can be seen adjusting the position of the egg on his (or her) feet. The parents take turns brooding the single egg.

Kings on landThe fat little brown birds, nicknamed "Oakum Boys," are chicks that have not yet fledged. There is a penguin near the center of the picture that is examining an egg. Later observation showed that the egg had been damaged and abandoned.

Susan & Oakem Boys

These friendly young penguins are shedding their brown fuzz. It looks like they are waiting for Susan Fienberg to feed them! We were admonished never to walk up to the birds, but it was OK to allow them to approach us. There was a little guy like one of these who came up to within two feet of me. Cute, but those beaks were long and wicked looking.

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