Nature

Georgia on my thoughts… – Tales of our nature


My very first voyage on board a ship to Antarctica included a spot referred to as South Georgia. And boy, did I’ve NO concept that my world was about to be turned the other way up! 

As I discussed in a earlier weblog article https://storiesofournature.com/2020/03/11/howibecameapolarguide/ I just about hit the bottom working throughout my first season so I used to be nonetheless studying about all these locations and had restricted information on the time about what sort of place South Georgia was.
My colleagues very kindly would fill me in on a few of the locations we have been going, telling me tales of their previous experiences. And one factor saved popping up within the dialog. They saved saying: “HA! Your first time as a polar information and also you not solely get to see Antartica however South Georgia as effectively? You might be one fortunate lady!”
I discovered that certainly not all people will get to go to South Georgia. Some ships go there solely as soon as a season, others in no way. 

One factor I can inform you is that I used to be not prepared for what this place would do to me.
The grandeur of the place, the unhappy historical past of whaling, completely loopy climate patterns, glaciers carving by mountains like scissors by paper -did you already know ice is stronger than rock?-, the vibrancy of the color pallets, how distant it actually was, how fragile, to not point out the staggering quantity and variety of fauna and flora… 

For anybody not aware of South Georgia, it lies at latitude  -54° 25′ 50.49″ S  and longitude -36° 59′ 12.88″ W, which means it has a sub-Antarctic local weather. It’s a crescent formed island with no everlasting inhabitants apart from researchers and summer season workers at South Georgia museum.

South Georgia image from above (by NASA Earth Observatory)

The very best peak towers at 2934 meters and about half of the island is completely coated by glaciers, ice and snow. One of many foremost the reason why there’s such a staggering quantity of variety of fauna is, as they are saying in actual property: location, location, location! 🙂

Location location location… (by Commons Wikimedia)

The Antarctic Circumpolar Present runs into SG and the submarine part of the island, creating a large upwelling – think about a large bubble bathtub sort of state of affairs – mixing the chilly waters from the south with the hotter waters of the north, stirring up all of the vitamins to the floor and selling phytoplankton blooms. Creating an ideal all-you-can-eat buffet that Antarctic and sub-antarctic species like to feed on.

So which species really name this dwelling? SO glad you requested 🙂 About 4 common breeding species of penguins, king, gentoo, chinstrap and macaroni penguins. Fur seals, Elephant seals, Leopard seals and really small inhabitants of Weddell seals. 87 species of birds, 30 of these being common breeders. I’m not itemizing all 87 right here however in case you ever need to see nesting Wandering Albatross, Snow Petrels or the well-known South Georgia Pipit, that is the place to be!

South Georgia Pipit, a chicken that made an unbelievable comeback from close to extinction as a result of launched rats by the whaling ships!

After all whales additionally move by the realm on their method south to Antarctica however just a few keep across the island for the summer season. Which is ironic contemplating SG was identified for it’s unbelievable abundance of whales. Besides the shares have been destroyed by 60 years of intensive whaling. However that could be a complete different article ready to occur and I figured that is loads of mind meals for you guys to digest, so let’s get again to my very first day in SG. 

As we approached South Georgia, I began making out the primary mountain ridges within the distance and the butterflies in my stomach have been having a loopy disco celebration! This was it. The (in)well-known island I had heard, learn a lot about in the previous couple of weeks, we have been lastly right here! 

We had deliberate a morning zodiac cruise in Cooper Bay however the swell was too nice to permit for secure zodiac operations. Our first exercise in SG and it was already exhibiting it’s true colors, unpredictable climate patterns making operations barely tougher. Onto to plan B, a ships cruise by the Drygalski fjord. Even within the sheltered waters of the fjord, it was difficult to be out on deck for prolonged durations of time, because the wind was howling throughout us. I even recall sure small waterfalls being blown upwards by the sturdy winds! On our method out of the fjord, we obtained a name from the captain, excellent news! The circumstances close to Larsen Harbour have been wanting calm sufficient to offer our zodiac operations one other strive. 

One of many first boats within the water – Drygalski fjord

All excited and giddy, we lowered our 10 zodiacs and off we went with the primary group, cruising by a king penguin colony. Plenty of ooh’s and aah’s as for lots of people, together with me, this was their first time ever seeing king penguins. Sadly, it was a short-lived affair because the winds have been choosing up once more and fast! So we bounced our method again over the swell, unloaded the friends safely and needed to name it a day. Mom nature has spoken: As we speak shouldn’t be your day. 

King Penguins

Now began the insane activity of getting our zodiacs again on the ship. Gentle as a feather with out the burden of our passengers, we needed to heed the wind and be on excessive alert after we manoeuvred across the ship, ready for our flip to go on the hook. Our expedition chief made the smart choice to place 2 drivers in every boat when it obtained connected. In order that one might deal with getting the boat rigged to the ship and swap of the engine, whereas the opposite pushed towards the ship to stop the swell and wind from pushing us beneath the again finish of the ship and get crushed. That is a type of instances the place you uncover how vital stable teamwork actually is and the way it forges mutual belief.

Sporty circumstances to get the boats again on the hook. Oh, yeah, that’s me on the left about to seek out out that drysuits aren’t at all times totally waterproof! 🙂

All of us obtained again secure on the ship, rosy cheeked from the wind and smiles throughout. We obtained a short look of our first king penguins and I used to be in absolute awe of this place. The surroundings, gentle and loopy climate had deepened my sense of surprise and respect of mom nature. It already had me in its grip and this was solely the start… 

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