Prion Island & Fortuna Bay

Nov 16, 2017 - National Geographic Explorer

Prion Island is an important breeding site for several species of birds, including the endemic South Georgia pipit and South Georgia pintail as well as wandering albatross, common diving petrels, white-chinned petrels, and Antarctic prions. Several of these species, particularly the pipits have almost been confined to the island due to the infestation of rats in the last 100 years and so when we landed we were pleased to be greeted to their chirps and their presence. Thankfully pipits in the last several years have spread over a large part of South Georgia due to the (hopeful) eradication of rats.

Wandering over the boardwalks on the island, we were lucky enough to see four large wandering albatross “chicks”—actually these were 8-month-old birds, considerably larger than the parents with just a few weeks left before having to make it in the world on their own.

In the afternoon, we went for a walk in Fortuna Bay. The site is very beautiful with large snow-peaked mountains and a glacier at the top of the bay. The ground we were walking on was also the footprint of where the glacier used to be and considerable mounds of glacial moraine were piled up over the site. Wildlife-wise we were treated to large numbers of king penguins, some rather cross fur seals and several elephant seal pups and females.

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About the Author

Peter Webster

Naturalist/Expedition Diver

Born in Scotland, Peter became fascinated with nature and wildlife from a very young age. This early interest led to him earning a degree in conservation biology followed shortly after by an M.Sc in marine and fisheries ecology. He is currently studying for another M.Sc in digital mapping. After working as a commercial diver for several years Peter was offered the position of Field Diving Officer with the British Antarctic Survey in 2012. He then spent the next 16 months in the Antarctic, stationed at Rothera Research Station, on the peninsula where he managed the dive operations and a team of scientific divers working on a wide range of research on climate change, ocean acidification, and increased seabed disturbance by icebergs. As well as diving Peter also spent several months in the Antarctic deep field working in aircraft operations, depot laying, and meteorological work whilst living in tents in conditions below -30oC. 

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