Posts Tagged ‘Fortuna Bay’

The Black Penguin

March 11th, 2010 at 5:48 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

It figures that something remarkable was seen on our trip, but I completely missed it. Fortunately my daughter Krystyana did see it – and she also managed to take several photos of this unusual critter. I’m speaking of the Black Penguin, a flightless bird with unusual coloring that appears to have taken the world by storm.

Black King penguin next to normal King penguin

Black King penguin next to normal King penguin

Fellow traveler and National Geographic Traveler contributing editor Andrew Evans posted a photo of the melanistic penguin on his blog, which led to another post in the Intelligent Travel blog, and from there it seems to have spiraled into a major news story.

So, to help prove that Andrew’s photo was not an anomaly, below are a few more photos of the Black Penguin.

Black Penguin in the foreground with a regular King penguin in the background

Black Penguin in the foreground with a regular King penguin in the background

The Black Penguin

The Black Penguin

Larger versions of the above images, along with additional photos can be found on Krystyana’s Flickr pages.

 

Penguins and Seals Don’t Just Live Atop Rocks and Ice

February 28th, 2010 at 10:06 am (AST) by Jake Richter

February 25, 2010 – One of the things that our current trip through Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic has made us realize is that the mental images we grew up with about the habitats of penguins and seals are just plain wrong. Maybe not entirely wrong, as such animals can in fact live on top of ice floes, ice-covered beaches, and rocky shores, but wrong enough that we were just stunned to find penguins and seals living on grassy plains, tall cliffs, and hills, distant from water.

The view of the beach at Fortuna Bay from our balcony in the morning

The view of the beach at Fortuna Bay from our balcony in the morning

As we anchored in Fortuna Bay, on the island of South Georgia, we took in this environment, so different from what we had come to believe as the sole reality of penguin and seal existence. From our balcony, we could see green, grassy plains extending from the shore, and liberally dotted with Antarctic fur seals, wandering King penguins, and even reindeer. The white specks that were King penguins stretched out even into the foot hills a mile or more from shore (and even further than that as we later observed).

We had already seen penguins climbing to nest at stupendous heights, but not with all the greenery involved as well.

The plains at Fortuna Bay are covered with King penguins and Antarctic fur seals

The plains at Fortuna Bay are covered with King penguins and Antarctic fur seals

Upon landing on shore, we also discovered the skeleton of a leopard seal – dried out, leaving only leathery skin, bones, and teeth. Yet another species of critter to dot the landscape.

Close-up of the desiccated skull of a leopard seal we found on the beach

Close-up of the desiccated skull of a leopard seal we found on the beach

As we wandered inland, for well over a mile, to find the large King penguin colony (7,000 nesting pairs, we were told) at Fortuna Bay, we had to continually dodge around fur seals and King penguins wandering about – mostly to or from the colony.

Three Stages of King Penguins - Adult, juvenile with no fuzz, chick losing fuzz

Three Stages of King Penguins - Adult, juvenile with no fuzz, chick losing fuzz

The King penguins have cute little tails

The King penguins have cute little tails

The fur seals were especially interesting – there were a lot of aggressive young males of all ages that would first growl at us and then charge. However we just stood our ground, stared them down, and occasionally told them to stop in a stern voice, and that took care of the problem. Much like dogs in that way. The fur seal pups, though, were just too cute when they tried the whole growling thing, and would always stop charging and then sulk off when we told them how adorable and cute they were. I hope they survive the emasculation of our comments.

One of the countless fur seal pups on the plain

One of the countless fur seal pups on the plain

The King penguin colony we ultimately saw was not nearly as impressive as the one back at Salisbury Plain, but we were interested to see that surrounding the colony were several herds of reindeer, apparently unperturbed by our presence. And seeing the penguins wandering near the reindeer gave the scene a rather surreal atmosphere.

A reindeer buck with tatters of velvet on his antlers - and King penguin in the foreground

A reindeer buck with tatters of velvet on his antlers - and King penguin in the foreground

As we slowly wandered back to the shore we spent time communing with the King penguins there as they exited and entered the ocean. King penguins feed exclusively in the ocean, and thus they spend a lot of their time in the water. But their chicks are in the various small colonies spread out across the hills and plains, so they spend a lot of time walking back and forth as well.

King penguins charge into the surf

King penguins charge into the surf

We set off for our Zodiacs, and the penguins around us wandered off to whatever engagements faced them.

A lone King penguin leaves tracks in the sand after exiting the water

A lone King penguin leaves tracks in the sand after exiting the water

Many more photos are available on my Flickr pages.

 

GPS Tracking – Fortuna Bay and Hercules Bay

February 25th, 2010 at 6:34 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

This morning found us back at Fortuna Bay where we visited a vast plain filled with fur seals, King penguins, and reindeer, but again under overcast skies with a fine mist. We moved to the sheltered harbor of Hercules Bay in the afternoon and saw our first Macaroni penguin colonies.

Not enough energy to do up a full blog post on either of these yet – maybe on Saturday while we’re at sea all day.

In the meantime, below is our GPS track, which started in Stromness last night, and ends in Rosita Harbour tonight.

 

GPS Tracking – Jason Harbour to Stromness via Fortuna Bay

February 24th, 2010 at 8:14 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

Another snowy day here in sub-Antarctic paradise. We started our day in Jason Harbor with a landing (see other post), and then headed off to Fortuna Bay after lunch to drop off folks who wanted to hike the last few miles of Shackleton’s trail to Stromness. None of The Traveling Richters felt like exerting themselves quite that much, so we stayed on board and instead made landfall at Stromness, the location of another old deserted whaling station and the place where Shackleton finally reconnected with civilization back in 1916.

We’re staying in the waters of Stromness tonight and then heading back to Fortuna Bay in the morning for more exploration.

Our GPS track is below: