4 Apr 2018

4 Apr 18 - Atlantic Odyssey - Day Seven: South Georgia - Cooper Island

After the morning cruising into the Drygalski Fyord, we returned to Cooper Island to see if the wind & the swell had moderated. Fortunately, conditions had improved & the Expedition staff announced that we would be able have a zodiac cruise around the island.
Cooper Island
Cooper Island: Fortunately, the swell was gentler on this side of the island & we were able to enjoy a zodiac trip as landings weren't allowed
Macaroni Penguins on the Cooper Island beach: This was the Macaroni Penguin end of the beach
Cooper Island beach: This was the Chinstrap Penguins part of the beach along with some Southern Elephant Seals (trying to look like large orange rocks on the beach)
Being nervous about the risks of getting salt water on the Canon 7D & 100-400 lens, I left the 7D on the Plancius & so all my photos from the zodiac were taken using the SX60 or Iphone. In hindsight, it would have been OK taking the 7D, with the safest option of leaving it in the dry bag until we were close to the beach. The highest risks of salt water hitting the camera were when the zodiacs were travelling to & from the Plancius. Still it was quite nice to just enjoy the wildlife without having too many distractions caused by the camera. All the zodiacs were launched in one go, but due to the time to load each zodiac, it generally wasn't too crowded once we reached the shoreline. As we reached the beach, the first zodiacs to leave the Plancius were already moving on to check out the rocks.
Arjen's Zodiac: It was clearly calm enough to have taken the 7D
The scenery was impressive
Another zodiac picture
Geoff Jones (front left) & Mike Deverell (front right)
Hadie Muller (centre) & Chris Gladwin (right): It was always more enjoyable on the longer zodiac runs to share the zodiac with friends, especially when people wanted to move around for photography
The cruise along the beach & rocks allowed us to see a variety of Penguins & other Seabirds, as well as, some more Antarctic Fur Seals.
King Penguins & Gentoo Penguins: With a Southern Elephant Seal
King Penguins & Gentoo Penguins: With several Antractic Fur Seals & a Southern Elephant Seal (at the back)
King Penguins, Gentoo Penguins & Southern Elephant Seals
Macaroni Penguin & Snowy Sheathbill: Macaroni Penguins breed on a few offshore South American islands, the Falklands, South Georgia, the South Sandwich & South Orkney Islands, the Antarctic Peninsula & the Subantarctic Indian Ocean Islands
Macaroni Penguin: These were my first Macaroni Penguins that I had seen on land & I only saw a few at sea
Macaroni Penguin: The main rookery was on the hillside
South Georgia Shag
Snowy Sheathbill & two Antarctic Fur Seal pups
Antarctic Fur Seal 
Antarctic Fur Seals: Pups waiting for mum to return
We were all well spaced out along the coastline when one of the zodiacs put out a probable Leopard Seal call over the radios. At that point we all converged on the same area to see the quickly confirmed Leopard Seal, with the zodiacs were still taking it in turn to get a big closer.
There is a Leopard Seal here somewhere
The other side of our zodiac: It looks busy, but in reality the zodiacs took it in turn to go in to look for the Leopard Seal
Leopard Seal: This photo was taken by Glenn Overington who has kindly allowed me to put it on the Blog (copyright remains with Glenn)
Leopard Seal: Another photo by Glenn. Leopard Seals prey mainly on Penguins, young Crabeater Seals & Antarctic Fur Seals, as well as, eating fish & Krill. They range throughout Antarctic & Subantarctic waters (copyright remains with Glenn)
Finally, we had to return to the Plancius.
Zodiacs waiting to unload
Another zodiac unloads after us
Iceberg: As we were sailing away we passed this small iceberg