Posts Tagged ‘Stromness’

Stromness – A Playground for Antarctic Fur Seals

February 27th, 2010 at 9:52 am (AST) by Jake Richter

February 24, 2010 – After our interesting morning with reindeer in Jason Harbour, we moved on to Fortuna Bay, where a couple of dozen hardy souls were dropped off to walk the last four miles of Ernest Shackleton’s incredible trip across South Georgia. The hike was a one-way trip, ending at Stromness, the next bay over to the east of Fortuna Bay.

It was snowing, it was cold, and we just were not feeling quite ambitious enough for such exertion so we instead opted to take the ship over to Stromness.

The former whaling station at Stromness

The former whaling station at Stromness

Stromness was a major whaling station on South Georgia, and the relics of the whaling station are still present on shore, but due to asbestos and a lack of structural integrity, humans are no longer allowed to get close to the structures there.

When we arrived at Stromness, Captain Kruse surprised us by running the National Geographic Explorer aground into the soft sand near the beach. This made for a very short trip to shore by Zodiac. The other surprise awaiting us were hundreds of fur seals on the beach, and more particularly, in the water. In fact, one particular area of the surf we could see from our balcony was literally alive with Antarctic fur seals, playing in the water.

Masses of fur seals observe us and the ship with only minor curiosity

Masses of fur seals observe us and the ship with only minor curiosity

It was snowing and raining quite strongly, but we needed to check out these fur seals for ourselves.

The seas are alive with the sounds of playing fur seals

The seas are alive with the sounds of playing fur seals

Once on land we discovered the fur seals were not particularly interested in us, and even the few older male fur seals didn’t waste energy on trying to intimidate us with growling and charging like we had experienced elsewhere on this trip.

Fur seals like body surfing as much as we do, but also in really cold water

Fur seals like body surfing as much as we do, but also in really cold water

Most of the fur seals were young pups – thoroughly adorable and curious, and readily approached us to check us out (and then ignore us when we proved to not be interesting enough).

Bas checks out his temporary fur seal pup companion while Linda videos him

Bas checks out his temporary fur seal pup companion while Linda videos him

Other critters were present too, including some elephant seals – one of whom came close enough to decide we were not something it wanted to spend more time with.

An elephant seal juvenile came in for a look at us, but ended up leaving again

An elephant seal juvenile came in for a look at us, but ended up leaving again

We also found two species of penguins – Gentoos and Kings. Watching the interchange between the seal fur pups and penguins was comical, with the fur seal pups being playful and the penguins being a bit disconcerted and huffy about the whole thing.

This Gentoo penguin appeared a little out of place when it came out of the water and found itself surrounded by curious fur seal pups

This Gentoo penguin appeared a little out of place when it came out of the water and found itself surrounded by curious fur seal pups

We spent a couple of hours on shore, completely soaked, but also very happy we had visited, and even happier we had not done the long hike.

Our King penguin greeting committee wishes us a good journey to our next stop in South Georgia

Our King penguin greeting committee wishes us a good journey to our next stop in South Georgia

More photos and larger version of those above can be found 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: