I go on these little jaunts because I enjoy seeing all the wildlife in their natural setting. It’s a chance to also improve my photographic technique. Whether I’m capturing images of birds in flight or high school football games, there’s always room for improvement.
When I left on this trip to South Georgia Island I didn’t know a giant petrel from a tank of petrol. This is a giant petrel.
I assume you already know what a tank of petrol looks like.
Anyway, South Georgia is the home to hundreds of thousands of penguins. Their are five different types there. This is the king penguin.
It has a gold pattern on its neck and yellow on its breast and shoulders. This is a macaroni penguin. There aren’t many of them here and this one was some distance from me when I photographed it.
It has orange braids/hair on either side of its head. Remember you can click on an image to enlarge it.
This is a chinstrap penguin. It gets its name from the black line under its chin.
This is the gentoo. It has an orange bill but no other color.
Finally, there is the rockhoppers. They live on the side of cliffs and get their name from how they get out of the water…hopping up onto the rocks and also how they move around the cliff.
These little guys are about a foot to 18″ tall. They also have side hairs similar to the macaroni penguin but they are more yellow than gold. Here are some young king penguins…oakum boys…getting fed by Mom. In the first image, you can see the food actually being transferred from Mom to oakum boy.
Here are a few more images of feeding and groups.
The most abundant penguins are the king penguins. They tend to move in groups…lines, bunches heading in and out of the surf and just standing around. Here’s an assortment of images.
As we moved from landing site to landing site, we found the different kinds. The rockhoppers were in the Falklands and not in South Georgia. Here are some at the colony where they were nesting with eggs.
Here’s a gentoo gathering material for his mate’s nest and a gentoo with an egg on the nest.
There isn’t a lot of predation but this fellow…a leopard seal… patrols the surf area looking for those penquins that are out of a swim. They also like to take a nibble out of a zodiac tube on occasion.
While out on a zodiac cruise along the shore, I saw a couple of penguin and a baby fur seal that had been killed and giant petrels were feeding on them.
The other common wildlife on the beach are Antarctic fur seals and elephant seals. Both will charge you if you get too close. The fur seals are afraid of anything taller that they are so if they come at you you can simply stand up to them and swat them with a tripod leg or walking stick. Elephant seals are another matter. The bulls are huge. They can be as large as 20′ long and weigh up to 5 tons. If they are moving, you get out of the way.
Here are a few fur seals.
There are rules about how close you can approach fur seals, penguins and elephant seals. There aren’t any rules how close they can approach you. Penguins, in particular, are very curious and if you stand still many of them will walk right up to you. Female elephant seals are smaller…about 10′ in length and only weigh up to one ton.
Here’s some of my elephant seal images. The first one has blood on its side. It had obviously been in a fight with another bull.
Here’s a couple of ladies elephant seals that reminded me of the recent presidential debates.
Tomorrow we’re going to the birds.