Friday, April 21, 2017

Incredible St. Andrews Bay, S. Georgia

This place was breathtaking
    Words can't really do justice to our landing the next day at St. Andrews Bay.  Weather had made our prior attempt at this landing site impossible previously, but we took another chance another day.  The passengers who had visited before all said this was one of the best landing sites and were very excited about it, but it was impossible to know how good it would be.  Pictures likely won't do this landing any justice either, but this will be a photo-centric post to try and capture at least a bit.  We got up early for morning sunrise/golden hour light - which this far south meant getting up before 4am.  The dedicated crew and guides went out of their way to give us such an amazing opportunity.     From the landing site it was a long hike to the colony, across a river, and I was glad to have my husband's help navigating the terrain.  When we finally reached the colony, it was mind blowing, with over a million penguins, both adults and chicks.
King penguin chicks make small brown rivers among the adult penguins
It wasn't possible to capture the scale of the penguins beneath the mountains
A river ran from the mountains to the ocean, through the penguins
The light was amazing, but I'm not a good enough photographer to do it justice
Isolating one "Oakum Boy" chick among the hundreds of thousands for a photo
There was something hypnotic and mesmerizing about a colony so huge

The chicks literally seemed to light up as the sun rose
One of the most gorgeous scenes I've ever witnessed
The chicks were so chubby they were sometimes larger than adults
I tried to take a video of the scene but it is a complete failure at truly capturing the scope and scale - at least there is a little sound:

Some penguins headed farther up the mountains, a very long trek from  the sea
Close up of some of the molting King penguins at St. Andrews Bay
Rivers of penguins - hard to describe
Once the morning light was gone...penguins coming ashore to the colony
A male elephant seal nuzzled into the sand on the beach
I love these adorable elephant seals!!!  As if a million penguins weren't enough.....

Two males fighting for mating rights; I should have videotaped it for sound and action

I tried to capture the movement of one of these big guys across the beach; this is short but I love it.  Must learn to take video, this trip taught me that.
This male is calling loudly, showing bloody battle scars
I love the expressions on the faces of both victorious male and "prize"female
Despite the size difference, they successfully mated just a few feet from the zodiac

Two males fighting for another female along the beach; busy mating season!
The Ortelius in the distance

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