Gold Harbour & Royal Harbour

Feb 28, 2018 - National Geographic Orion

The early bird catches the worm. We awoke at 0500 a.m. to get ashore before dawn at Gold Harbour. As the sun rose over the Scotia Sea our landing site lived up to its name with the sky ablaze and the cliffs and glaciers lit beautifully by the warm light. We shared the moment with tens of thousands of busy king penguins as well as South Georgia pintails (endemic ducks), elephant seals, and fur seals. Not content with one landing here, we landed again after breakfast! En route to our second landing site for today, we encountered a southern right whale which approached our bow and put on a wonderful display of pectoral fin-slapping, fluking, and even spy-hopping (raising its head). Royal Harbour was moodier with rain, rainbows, and dramatic evening light illuminating the king penguin colony. The Zodiac ride ashore was exciting as we cruised over a submerged terminal moraine to access the shore. 

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About the Author

Conor Ryan


Hailing from Cobh in the south of Ireland, Conor Ryan grew up on the shores of Cork Harbour where his fascination with the sea led him to study zoology at University College Cork. He continued his studies in marine biology in Galway, where he completed his Ph.D. thesis on the diet and population structure of baleen whales in the Celtic Sea using stable isotope analysis. His research also brought him to Cape Verde in search of the breeding grounds of humpback whales that frequent the coasts of Ireland. However these whales have not yet given up their secret!

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