Days 6 -Arrival at South Georgia-Haakon Bay

Crossing the Scotia Sea, we have two days of lectures from some of our expert geologists--Ian Dalziel, Rob Dunbar, and best of all, Richard Alley.  Alley's name may be familiar--he wrote the book, "Earth: the Operator's Manual" and hosted the PBS program of the same name.  This was a fascinating way to spend our travel days at sea.

Finally, we make it to South Georgia Island, a land mass almost 100 miles long and chock full of a staggering concentration of animal life.South Georgia IslandSouth Georgia Island

Our first landfall is Peggotty Bluff in Haakon Bay.  Besides the animals, this is a key location of Ernest Shackleton's Endurance voyage and self-rescue.  We discussed the epic trip in depth while at sea.  It is an amazing story.  

Here's a brief run-down of this awe-inspiring trip, in case you're not familiar with the details...  Shackleton and his 28-man crew left South Georgia on the Endurance for the Trans-Antarctica expedition in December, 1914 to traverse Antarctica via the South Pole.  The ship became trapped in packed ice in the Weddell Sea and was crushed by the pressure in November 1915 forcing the men on to the floating ice.  Fourteen months after they set sail, they launched three 20-foot lifeboats from the ice to head for solid ground at Elephant Island.  They made landfall on the deserted island the 497th day of their disastrous expedition.  The island was outside shipping lanes and any hope of rescue.  So Shackleton left most of his crew and took 5 men in one boat to head for the whaling station on South Georgia using only a sextant and a chronometer.  They were dependent on sightings of the sun which sometimes couldn't be seen for a week.  After 15 days of rough seas and tortuous conditions, they made it to the unoccupied side of South Georgia. There, Shackleton and two of his men made the grueling hike across the mountainous spine of the island, finally reaching help at the whaling station 36 hours later.  After three failed rescue attempts, Shackleton was able to get to the other 22 men he had left on Elephant Island four and a half months earlier.  The end of a failed voyage but a miraculous self-recue of every Endurance crewman, 21 months later in August 1916.

King Haakon Bay is where Shackleton and his men first made landfall after their epic voyage from Elephant Island.King Haakon BayLanding at Peggoty Bluff, South Georgia Island

A fur seal introduces us to the fantastic world in store for us here.Fur sealLanding at Peggoty Bluff, South Georgia Island

Elephant seals lounge all over the shore.Elephant sealLanding at Peggoty Bluff, South Georgia Island

We hike up to Peggoty Bluff and find the nesting South Georgia ShagsSouth Georgia ShagSouth Georgia Shag Nesting at Peggoty Bluff, King Haakan Bay, South Georgia Island

While a Giant Petrel soars in the air currents off the bluff.  These are top predators and this one is probably looking for an untended chick.Giant PetrelPetrel at Peggoty Bluff, South Georgia Island

Along the beach we see many fur seal pups.  Fur seal pupLanding at Peggoty Bluff, South Georgia Island

They must wait, unprotected, while their mothers leave to find krill.  This pup is searching a stream for some mollusks while he waits.

The adolescent fur seals can have a bit of a attitude.  This one is having words with a sibling while an adult looks on.

Adolescent fur sealLanding at Peggoty Bluff, South Georgia Island

These two fur seals strike a pose on the rocks along the shoreFur sealsLanding at Peggoty Bluff, South Georgia Island

While an elephant seal plays mermaid in the water.Elephant sealLanding at Peggoty Bluff, South Georgia Island

And we see our second kind of penguin--the orange-beaked gentoo--on the shoreGentoo penguinsLanding at Peggoty Bluff, South Georgia Island

And leaping into the water.Gentoo into the surfLanding at Peggoty Bluff, South Georgia Island



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