Prince Olaf Harbour and Prion Island

Mar 03, 2018 - National Geographic Orion

Heavy clouds, gales of wind, and horizontal sheets of rain blasted through Prince Olaf Harbour. Conditions seemed grim, yet with the incredible commitment of the Bridge team and a well suited scout team, we were able to still have an incredible adventure onshore and in Zodiacs this morning. Already hoping to get drenched, the dive team also set out into the elements in hopes of taking some more underwater footage while exploring South Georgia’s lush kelp forests. Despite the harsh weather, everyone remained in high spirits to hike around the rustling tussac and take a deeper look into Right Whale Bay.

After wringing out a few mustang suits and heading to the northwest, we set sail for Prion Island. We had the rare treat to be able to come to the specially protected area where wandering albatross nest and soar at ease in the blistering winds above the pinnacle of the small island. Onshore were the usual suspects: naturalists in waders, Antarctic fur seal pups clamoring about, a few penguins, and more anomalously, a few sleeping giant petrels welcomed us. Incredible to imagine how the fur seals could have ever been declared extinct with such a high density behind every tussac, around each bend of the boardwalk, and scratching their molting coats as far as the eye can see here. Happy that the end of sealing and the extensive rat eradication have bolstered not only the pinniped population, but the local indigenous birds, we watched the massive wanderers tending their nests. Giant petrels soared and let out comically startling calls overhead while skuas swooped in below to deliver a fresh meal to their family, ironically, of a small petrel! Camera lenses and binoculars pointed to the skies, we watched all the wide-winged wonders in awe. Not ready to leave this revered land just yet, we went to bed early in preparation for an early start tomorrow morning before heading to the Falklands.

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About the Author

Caitlyn Webster

Undersea Specialist

Caitlyn grew up entranced by the sea. She first became SCUBA certified while in high school in southern California and found her true passion diving and studying marine life. After graduating from Cal Poly State University: San Luis Obispo with a degree in Biological Sciences and a concentration in Marine Science and Fisheries, she began her career in research diving operations and logistics. Through different universities and various opportunities, Caitlyn has been fortunate enough to travel to particularly remote parts of the world, sharing her enthusiasm for exploring the seas and marine conservation.

About the Photographer

Robert Alexander

Naturalist/Expedition Diver

Robert Alexander has quenched his thirst for exploring the world’s flora and fauna by captaining, interpreting natural history, and conducting research aboard ships.  He particularly developed a passion for the marine life below the water’s surface while attending the University of Oregon and becoming involved with their diving program.  The rich waters of the Pacific Northwest led Robert to change career paths, and locales, as a SCUBA Instructor based primarily out of Maui.  Utilizing any means of floating vessel, from kayaks and catamarans to small passenger boats and Zodiacs, Robert became a captain as he explored the behavioral patterns of the captivating marine megafauna throughout the world.  In between being a captain and naturalist, he strives to conserve and preserve all forms of life- be it our very own species as a firefighter and EMT, assisting in shark-tagging projects for NOAA, or researching hawksbill turtle populations with the Hawaii Wildlife Fund.

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