South Georgia – the most prolific wildlife oasis on the planet
The wildlife of South Georgia come out to meet you hundreds of miles before the spectacular mountain ranges come into view. Only 150 miles long and mostly mountains, glaciers and small natural harbours, there is barely enough room for the teeming wildlife, and you have to fight for space on the beach at every landing. Fur seals go for your kneecaps and make driving the zodiac quite stressful as they do backflips right next to you. King penguins are so tall they can nearly pick your pockets and quite often try to. Giant petrels have bodies as big as ducks but with huge wingspans. Elephant seals look surprisingly like large boulders, but don’t get between them and the water, or you will see blubber in rapid motion. Anchored at night the ship has to cover the light from the portholes so the millions of breeding birds don’t fly into our rigging.
Prion Island is one of the major breeding grounds for the Wandering Albatross, and Salisbury plain has the biggest King Penguin colony in the world. Because South Georgia is a sub Antarctic island sitting at 55 degrees South, it just escapes the encircling pack ice around Antarctica in winter, so becomes one of the few prime breeding spots for the seabirds, seals and penguins from the frozen white continent to rear their young. There are 30 King ,enguin rookeries on the island and over 400 000 pairs, in addition to rookeries of Macaroni and Chinstrap Penguins.