Saturday, April 4, 2009



Greetings, Adventurers,
It is hard to believe that so much can happen in a day-- and the days
just slip by so quickly. But, I will try to give an update on where we
have been and what we have seen.

March 28-March 30: We departed Antarctic Sound, headed for the South
Orkney Islands, intending to land at the Argentine station, Orcadas.
Unfortunately, the weather was not in our favor. We encountered gale
force winds, making landing conditions impossible. So, carried on at
sea, heading for the grandest of the sub-Antarctic wildlife islands,
South Georgia. So, we bid farewell to the huge tabular ice, although
plenty of icebergs and bergy bits were still around. Sea days were
filled with birding & searching for cetaceans. One morning began with 3
Southern Right Whales & the day ended with Hourglass Dolphins bowriding
for prolonged periods of time! One morning, we encountered 15 Orcas!

March 31-April 3: The jagged, snow-dusted peaks of South Georgia had all
of us on the bridge as we entered Cooper Bay. A Zodiac cruise was
undertaken, where we saw many Macaroni Penguins & the world's most
southerly passerine, South Georgia Pipit, feeding on the drifting kelp
along with newly fledged Wilson's Storm-Petrels! Imagine that! In the
afternoon, we landed at the stunning Gold Harbor, filled with many
thousands of King Penguins & their chicks in various life stages. Over
the next several days, we made landings at Salisbury Plain (another
large King rookery), Fortuna Bay, Grytiviken (where we held an Antarctic
Barbecue), and finally, at Prion Island in the Bay of Isles on the
afternoon of April 2. On one landing, we were able to find a young
Light-mantled Sooty Albatross in the nest! Prion Island is a special
landing site with special limitations due to the nesting Wandering
Albatrosses. Walking on the new boardwalk to the top, we were greeted by
at least a dozen albatrosses on their nests! In due time, we were able
to witness the most extensive display of gamming that I have seen since
2001 on Albatross Island (now closed to tourism). It was quite
spectacular to see and hear their displays with as many as six
individual birds getting into the act at once! What a view the
albatrosses have from this lofty height! Looking down at the nearshore,
one of our party spotted a slow moving Southern Right Whale. Now, we had
completed six out of our six scheduled landings at South Georgia-- a
record for me! In the evening our EL announced that the forecast for our
five day journey to Gough Island was so excellent, that we would make a
seventh landing on South Georgia at Stromness Harbor. This early morning
landing was quite beautiful, hiking the hillsides to waterfalls, -- and
finally, sunshine glistening on the ragged peaks. Many of us thought of
Sir Ernest Shackleton, and his heroic walk over these peaks, into the
whaling station at Stromness. In all, we saw all of the South Georgian

April 4: We are now headed full speed toward Gough Island, still some 4
days away. Conditions are unbelievably excellent, with horizon to
horizon visibility and calm seas! A Gray Petrel just flew by, and I just
saw half a dozen Hourglass Dolphins. The ship is running at 13 knots due
to the very strong current. All is well, and we many on board are taking
advantage of our lecture program.

At sea,

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