Southern fur seals and King penguin in snow at Cooper Bay, South Georgia
It has been a few years that I made a trip to Antarctica and South Georgia in December. This time I noticed the amount of snowfalls we had during the two trips the end of November and in December. Taking to scientists Dr. Roger Hewitt and Professor Chuck Kennicutt the weather pattern have changed. With the warming of Antarctica and the Sub-Antarctic islands, the air can hold more moisture and more snow is falling. As a result of more snow, penguins are not able to built their nets and lay the eggs as early as they used to do. In the 1970’s and through the early 1990’s I saw Adelie penguins hatching the beginning of December – now they hatch much later. The question is how this will effect the penguins in the long run….
Adelie penguins in snowfall at Hope Bay on November 27
Gentoo penguins on Cuverville Island with their nest site still covered with snow on November 29th. In the past they would incubate their eggs or have small chicks at this time.
A few Gentoo penguins are incubating on November 30th on a snow free patch at Yankee Harbour.
Elephant seals in snow at Grytviken, South Georgia
The remains of the whaling station at Grytviken, South Georgia in heavy snow fall
King penguins at Salisbury Plain, South Georgia in snow fall
Since my first trip to Antarctica in 1977, I was always fascinated by the albatrosses flying behind the ship when crossing the waters between South America and Antarctica, the Falklands or South Georgia. There were dozens of them and it was easy to photograph them because of their high numbers. Since 1977 I have made the crossing 54 times and this year it was different: we almost saw no albatrosses. There were a few Black-browed albatrosses, two or three Grey-headed albatrosses and finally on our way back from South Georgia to Montevideo the ship was followed by 2, sometimes 3 Wandering albatrosses.
I love when a Wandering albatross comes close to the ship and you get an idea how big they are. Adults can have a wingspan of almost 12 feet.
I can watch them for hours. A Wandering albatross is gliding over the water without flapping the wings, just using the wind to fly.
Upcoming Photo tours: Iguassu Falls March 2014, Botswana June 2014, Pantanal September 2014, Alaska 2015, Svalbard (Spitsbergen Polar bears) 2015; in planning Antarctica
I was surprised seeing the King penguin colony at Salisbury Plain in South Georgia. The colony expanded dramatically and almost reached the beach (photo above). My last visit was in 2006 and we were able to walk around on the sides of the colony in order to climb the hill to get overviews of the original colony. Now the way was blocked with birds incubating their eggs. It is estimated that there are now about 60,000+ penguins.
The King penguin colony on the hillside in 1978. The flats below was not covered with breeding penguins.
In 1993 you can see that the King penguins are starting to spread onto the flats below the hillside. There is still empty space of about 1/3 mile between the colony and the beach.
A view down onto incubating King penguins.
Upcoming Photo tours: Iguassu Falls March 2014, Botswana June 2014, Pantanal September 2014, Alaska 2015, Svalbard (Spitsbergen Polar bears) 2015
We woke up to a beautiful morning: not a cloud in the sky and a great view of the old whaling station of Grytviken, which stopped operation in December of 1964
The weather changed from sun to snow. Young Elephant seals practicing the sparing; and a Antarctic fur seal is protecting his territory in the snowfall .
Whale catchers are rusting away as the whaling station
The church from 1913 and its library
Upcoming Photo tours: Iguassu Falls March 2014, Botswana June 2014, Pantanal September 2014, Alaska 2015, Svalbard(Spitsbergen Polar bears) 2015
Macaroni penguins on rocks in Cooper Bay
Antarctic Fur seals in heavy snow fall in Cooper Bay
Antarctic Fur seals on beach in Cooper Bay
Seabourn Quest in Drygalski Fjord
After two days without the internet, it started this evening to work again. Yesterday on our way to South Georgia, we passed Cornwallis Island, a island 1 mile (1.6 km) long, which lies 5 miles (8 km) northeast of the east end of Elephant Island, in the South Shetland Islands
A Cape petrel is gliding through the evening sky
Sunset over the Scotia Sea
We arrived at Cuverville Island and to our surprise Santa Claus was greeting the Seabourn Quest and wished all of us a Merry Christmas
Cuverville Island is home to a Gentoo penguin colony
It was warm on Cuverville Island and I took my fur hat off which I bought in Buenos Aires before my first trip to Antarctica in 1977. A skua came and inspected it: it looks furry – maybe I can eat it. I quickly grabbed it and my hat was safe.
Skua with Gentoo penguins in background
Christmas decorations on the Seabourn Quest
Gentoo penguin colony at the Chilean station Gonzales Videla, Paradise Bay, Antarctica
Lucistic Gentoo penguin (a defect in pigment cell differentiation)
Algae and ice
Antarctic Sound at 4 am
Zodiac excursion at Hope Bay with Adelie Penguins on ice floe
Adelie Penguins going to sea
Early morning view from Yankee Harbour towards Livingston Island
Nikon D4, 200-400mm lens, 1/800s F 5.6
Gentoo penguin colony at Yankee Harbour
Nikon D4, 70-200mm lens, 1/640s F 6.3
Gentoo penguins at Yankee Harbour
Nikon D4, 200-400mm lens