Another bird that can be seen on the beach and other part of the South Georgia Islands are Giant Petrels. Giant petrels superficially resemble the albatross, and are the only procellarids with a comparable wingspan or around 190 cm.
Sadly global warming has not stopped here either - the Betrab Glacier used to drop right into the ocean and now has moved up all the way to the top of the mountain. A dramatic retreat - if it continues to move backwards as in the last 20 years, soon there will be no glacier left!
As you can see on the two pictures the animals on the beach are very inquisitive, this elephant seal decided to spare us a visit at the First Aid Station on the beach... she did not like our life vests, and as everyone scrambled for cover proceeded to throw them around...
Quiet a few fur seals were around the beach, almost the entire time visible was a group of four youngsters who created havoc with penguins, and also with us. The youngsters seemingly were trying to see who was more scared, and each of them moved a little closer towards us... just to retreat and try again...
In between the thousand of penguins, scattered all over the beach are resting Elephant Seals. Some of the younger bulls are training for the time they need to fight themselves. The rest just slept making strange noises at times, or occasionally opening an eye to see who was approaching... but what better to do in the 6 degrees warm summer sun - sleep!!
As you can see on the picture, taken on January 14, 2007 - it is an experience, here I am standing on a beach in South Georgia Island completely surrounded by penguins, seals and other wildlife. And if one follows the rules, such as to keep a 5 meter distance to the penguins and seals, or to remain quiet and to walk slowly one will not impact - and in fact attract the curious ones to come close up for an investigation!
Almost lost in the large colony of King Penguins are the few Gentoo Penguins that stroll around the beach. Their colony a much smaller one is on top of the hill, so whenever they are going to hunt, they have to cross the King's territory to make their way to the beach. Though it appeared that both like each other!
King Penguins can be seen in abundance all over South Georgia, also in Gold Harbour. One relaxes or sits down on the ground and the penguins will walk right up and investigate. A sighting that one cannot describe - one simply has to experience it.
Gold Harbour lies at the foot of the Salvesen Range about 20 km north of Cape Vahsel. It is regarded by many as one of South Georgia's most beautiful visitor sites, and I can only agree. An amphitheatre of hanging glaciers and vertical cliffs rises straight out of the sea. Another breathtaking site - and the visit was blessed with clear sky and sunshine!!
Yes you are reading right, Reindeer in Antarctica.... Brought from Scandinavia by Norwegian whalers they now life as wild animals on South Georgia.
It took two winters to change the habit of breeding in the European summer and adapt to the Southern summers. Now one can see them isolated in the various valleys - as we did in St. Andrews Bay high up on the mountain slopes.
At first one would imagine that the floating icebergs that one can see at the entrance come from one of the massive glaciers inside the fjord, wrong, these icebergs make the journey from ice far greater then here - the Antarctic mainland.
Not quiet the right water to jump in and swim in. The broken off pieces of the glaciers tumble down into the ocean creating a layer of ice that floats and eventually melts; here the summer water temperature was 2.9 degrees Centigrade.
A few hundred meters before the end of the Drygalski Fjord one can see a glacier on the right hand side. The Dead End Glacier moves from the mountain range above. Huge cracks in the glacier can be seen and when we passed pieces of ice was thundering down into the sea below.
To the left of the Risting Glacier one finds another large glacier making its way from the mountains above - the Jenkins Glacier. The glacier splits in two parts making its way to the Drygalski Fjord.
Drygalski Fjord lies about halfway between Cooper Bay and Green Island off Cape Disappointment at the southeast of the island. The fjord is 14 km long and very narrow. Spectacular peaks rise directly out of the sea to over 2000 meter altitude.
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