Kath is so penguined out that she has had to have a lie down, So I’ll have to write the blog for a change!
Ocean Harbour is the nearest secure anchorage to St Andrews Bay, the site of the largest king penguin rookery in South Georgia. St Andrews is normally hammered by surf, so we would only be able to land and leave Caramor at anchor, if conditions were good.
The weather forecast for Wednesday 27 January looked promising in terms of light winds and very little swell. We got up early and by 0715 had the anchor up and were off. We motored the 9 nautical miles, dropped anchor in the relative shelter of Clark’s point at 0930 and prepared to go ashore. Kath remarked that we looked like two spacemen exploring an alien planet. I could see what she meant. We were wearing drysuits and buoyancy aids, and carrying waterproof rucksacks; the land was devoid of vegetation and populated by some 300,000 little alien creatures who made trumpeting sounds; and we were carrying pulsatronic stun guns (oars actually) to deter the more aggressive alien species (well, fur seals really).
Spaceman stood next to his landing vehicle, mother ship in the background
We had been told that the place was stunning, but the sheer numbers of penguins are overwhelming. We slowly made our way to the edge of the rookery, stopped the required 10m away, and settled down to some serious sensory overload and photographic excess.
A handsome individual
Parents incubating their eggs on their feet
Down covered chicks creching
Has anyone seen Eric?
King Penguins are about 94cm tall and breed on the sub antarctic islands, South Georgia being their main stronghold. They are unique amongst penguins in that it takes them over a year to raise a chick. a single egg is laid and incubated on the adult’s feet for 54 days. For 6 weeks after hatching the chick is guarded in turn by one parent while the other fishes. After that it has enough down and fat to cope with the weather and both parents can go fishing and double the food it gets. The chicks creche while the adults are away, both for warmth and for protection from predatory skuas and giant petrels.