Tuesday, March 15, 2005
This is a young King Penguin. All penguins have to stay on land until their down falls off and their feathers are all grown in. They aren't water proof until their feathers all come in. When explorers first saw these rookeries, they thought there were 2 different species of birds. They look so silly - especially the ones who just have bits of down clinging to their heads or backs.
Not a baby, but a full grown female Elephant Seal. The naturalists called them 'blubber slugs.' They don't move very fast on land, but they're quite elegant when they swim. This one got a little crabby, but put her head back down and went back to sleep right after this picture. Poor thing was just worn out.
From our stop on Prion Island in South Georgia, a gorgeous Wandering Albatross. This bird was sitting on its nest when we came up and its mate flew in right after we arrived. They do a bit of their mating dance to make sure they really know each other and then the one sitting on the nest flies away to feed. This bird was unfolding its wings in preparation for flight.
Demonstrating the wingspan of a Wandering Albatross - they can get up to 11 feet wide! Unfortunately, this bird was dead. Chris (the one in the middle holding the bird) came across it while we were wandering. It was an apparently healthy, young bird and there were no signs of trauma to let him know how it died. He carried it back to the ship as our next stop was Gritviken (a former whaling station) and they had a bird specialist there. The Albatross population is shrinking and there doesn't seem to be any definitive reason why.
Okay, last gratuitous penguin shot:
This is a Gentoo Penguin. Don't you just love his crazy, orange feet?