Day 11 Saint Andrew's Bay, South Georgia
I am an emotional being. I wear my heart on my sleeve more often than I should, or at least I used to do that. The trip thus far had tested my emotions in terms of what I was witnessing, the natural spectacles unfolding before my eyes, and the joy of being totally unplugged from the stresses of the world. Yet, what I was to witness on the afternoon of the 26th November 2014 will stay with me for a long, long time. I had not been moved by anything in this way for as long as I could remember. We were to land at St. Andrew's Bay. Home to hundreds of thousands of King Penguins. Mounds of adult Elephants Seals along the beaches and young Weaner pups everywhere to be seen. Fur Seals lined the shoreline acting as sentries along their patch of stony soil, and Petrels, Gulls, Skuas and Sheathbills patrolled the skies and nesting colonies in search of an easy meal. I could wax lyrical about this place all day. I could go on to describe the beauty, its silence and solitude, the often pungent smells, the sounds, the lack of contrails, the lack of humans, the absence of man-made noise and noise of man, the feeling of being the alien, of being the observer, of being the non-native, the stranger, of not belonging...but I do not have the vocabulary to give this place the justice it deserves. All I can do instead is present a selection of photographs here to allow you to get a peek into the domain of King Penguins and their mammalian companions
And while I did manage to sit down, try to take all this in and shed a tear at the beauty and wonder of the place, I also smiled and laughed at the realisation of my disbelief of where I was standing. Surreal does not even come close.
Huge thanks to Jim Wilson for taking the photograph of me (a rare thing) standing by the King Penguin colony. I had on three layers of pants, 4 layers of tops and the waterproof/windproof jacket. It was cold and my hands were numb at this stage.
Despite the remoteness of this island, the impact of man on the global climate was quite evident by the retreating Ross Glacier in the background. Where I am standing in the photograph was once covered by the glacier. It has retreated many kilometres back up the valley in the past 25 years. The last thing I noticed as we left the area in our Zodiac was a single Wilson's Storm Petrel zipping past my head and heading up the glacial valley, no doubt going to its nest site. What a thrill.
Keywords: Albatross, Antarctic, Antarctica, Canon, Carmody, Elephant, Elephant Seal, Jim Wilson, Kelp, Kelp Gull, King, King Penguin, Mark Carmody, Penguin, Photography, Quark, Seal, Sheathbill, Skua, South, South Georgia, Southern, Southern Elephant Seal
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