Today we finished the final leg of the Drake Passage and arrived into the South Shetland Islands. But before landing it was important to go through a bio-security protocol to protect the pristine environment of Antarctica. These protocols involve cleaning and disinfecting all footwear and removing any potential seeds from fabrics. This insures we don’t bring invasive species with us that could potentially take root in Antarctica.
National Geographic Endurance
The early bird gets the worm; today, the worm was one million king penguins! Starting our morning at St. Andrew’s Bay, we wandered among fur and elephant seals to get a fantastic view of the largest colony of king penguins on South Georgia. With over 250,000 breeding pairs, plus the rambunctious “oaken boys” that have not yet molted their baby down feathers in exchange for their adult waterproof coat, an easy conservative estimate of the colony’s population is around 800,000 to 1,000,000 individual penguins. An incredible sight, sound, and smell to behold – we took several minutes just to try to take it all in. With katabatic winds building down the Heeney glacier, we headed back to the ship for lunch and transportation to our afternoon at Grytviken whaling station. Naturalist Carl Erik led us in a toast to the Boss at Shackleton’s gravesite, and we explored the ruins of the whale processing plant. South Georgia Heritage Trust runs a museum with artifacts from all of the different eras of the island’s history, and the post office was open for some to send postcards back home!