From the National Geographic Explorer in South Georgia
Nov 15, 2012 - National Geographic Explorer
King Haakon Bay and Elsehul, South Georgia
Welcome to the wildlife paradise that is found on this amazing sub-Antarctic island called South Georgia. After a very smooth crossing from the Falkland Islands we made our first landing on the west side in King Haakon Bay. It was a wonderful opportunity to go ashore at Peggotty Bluff, a place that we do not get land at very often and a chance to see one of the important places in Sir Ernest Shackton’s epic expedition. This is where Shackleton and two of his men started their crossing of the island to reach the whaling station in Stromness Harbor.
As we stepped ashore the beach was littered with southern elephant seal pups that were snoozing the morning away. The pups were born less than a month ago and most are already on their own, weaned by their mothers at just three weeks.
There were non-breeding male fur seals that haven’t quite gotten their act together this season to have their own territories scattered in the tussock grass above the beach. Small groups of molting king penguins were discovered on the various walks in addition to glimpses of the endemic South Georgia Pintail.
In the afternoon we sailed over to the east side of the island to Elsehul. The wind had picked up a fair bit and we enjoyed the fantastic scenery as we sailed through Stewart Strait between Willis and Bird Island. As we entered the Elsehul bay, hundreds of prions, albatrosses and petrels swirled around the ship. We saw small colonies of gray-headed and black browed albatrosses nesting high along the cliff edges. What a fantastic start to our time on this magical isle!