Sunday 7 February 2010

Gentoos Eat Their Young!

Our first landing was at Cuverville Island the site of one of the largest Gentoo Colonies in Antarctica. Here at last was photographic proof that Gentoo penguins eat their young!
Just kidding.
As we walked about the island we could see many adults feeding their chicks. Sometimes the chick's head would literally disappear down the throat of its parent.
Everywhere you looked there were fat chicks. Many were lying on their plump bellies sound asleep. Other chicks were obviously suffering in the warm sun.

There was even a surprise visitor on Cuverville. A lone King penguin! This was a special treat and quite unexpected. For many of us this would be the only King penguin we will ever see. This was a youngster just getting ready to moult. It is not unusual for young birds to show up far from their colony in seemingly strange places.A lot of warm sunshine can promote calving glaciers and avalanches. Across the Channel on the Arctowski Peninsula a huge rumble alerted us to a massive avalanche pictured in the above photograph.
On the west side of the island there was a large group of approx. fifty Skuas. There seemed no end to their boldness as some of them pecked at camera bags and one even tried to fly away with a life jacket.
In the afternoon we enjoyed more stunning scenery on our way to Almirante Brown - an unoccupied Argentine base in Paradise Bay. This landing was cause for celebration as we would be taking our first steps on the actual Antarctic continent. Most of us climbed up the 90 metre hill behind the base to enjoy stunning views of Paradise Bay. Far below and in the distance we could see Humpback and Minke whales. Many of us slid on our posteriors down the hill. What fun!
From morning until night there was an endless parade of whales. There seemed hardly a moment when we could not see a Humpback or a Minke.