Today was a day of hikes, penguins, seals, and a jelly. National Geographic Endurance arrived at Cobbler’s Cove, a sheltered bay and headland. One group arrived on the beach with the intention of hiking up the slope and down the other side toward an otherwise inaccessible colony of macaroni penguins. These were new penguins for our guests, so an eager crowd of hikers made the exciting trip. They found magnificent views and spotted a few nesting giant petrels from a respectful distance. Finally, the hikers’ tussocky adventure ended in incredible views of these very distinctive penguins.
Meanwhile, a group of Zodiacs made their way around the coastline to view the penguins from the sea. Many penguins darted through the water and leapt just beyond our Zodiacs. With the cove’s spectacular geology on full display, our exciting morning ended with the view of a very unusual jelly, the giant phantom jelly! Normally, the jelly’s deep red colour makes it virtually invisible in the ocean depths of its usual home. This particular jelly was white and unfortunately expired, presumably brought to the surface by upwelling currents. This was a highly unusual sighting of the jelly, one of only 100 or so ever seen in the wild.
The afternoon was spent in the company of king penguins and feisty juvenile fur seals. The penguin colony was one of the largest on South Georgia. Its numbers were somewhat reduced this late in the season, and very few younger juveniles remained. The huddle in the central colony remained impressive, and the “oakum boys” were distinctive in their brown-furred glory. As the sun began to sink in the sky, a beautiful light lit up the penguins, seals, and surrounding mountains alike. It was a suitable ending for another spectacular day in South Georgia.