Thursday, January 14, 2010

Landings: Salisbury Plain & Fortuna Bay

14 January 2010
South Georgia

After spending a very calm night in the sheltered lee near Salisbury
Plain, we made an early landing. The landing site was teaming with
wildlife! Southern Elephant Seals were scattered amongst the thousands
and thousands of Antarctic Fur Seals. The island's second largest King
Penguin colony is found here. It was a long hike to the colony because
the swell a the standard landing site was far too big for us to land
there. Led by Don Doolittle, we hiked about a mile, or so to the edge of
the colony. Along the way, we encountered several giant petrel and skua
chicks in their nests. Most folks spotted both the South Georgian Pintal
and Pipit. Once we arrived at the colony, the sounds and smells were
incredible. It was King Penguins for as far as we could see! Lots of the
young "oakum boys" were around. Some Kings were holding eggs on their
feet. Returning to the landing site, Morten alerted us to a Leopard Seal
which was hauled out on the beach. South Georgia is the northernmost
limit of their range. So, this turned out to be an unexpected treat.
Finally, we returned to our ship, to eat a quick lunch.

We headed to Prion Island, with a program outlined by Morten and Debra.
However, upon arrival, Morten launched a scout Zodiac, and determined
that the swells were too high for us to safely land. So, a staff meeting
to develop Plan B was held.

Next, we headed for Fortuna Bay, hoping to make a landing. This is an
extremely scenic bay, teaming with wildlife. The snow covered mountain
peaks were visible with clear, blue skies. All around us, we marveled at
the majestic, jagged peaks. Morten and our dedicated captain lauched out
on a Zodiac to see if a landing was possible. Upon their return, Morten
called for the brave of heart and most agile folks to take on the
landing! About half of our ship landed and enjoyed more King Penguins,
as well as a hike to the waterfalls.

Dinner was late-- 8 pm. Tomrrow, we are set for a 4 am wake-up call!

Albatrosses forever,
Debi Shearwater
On board Professor Multanovskiy, charter voyage

No comments: