Today was our last day to experience the wilderness of South Georgia. Tucked away into a small cove at the northern tip of the island, the National Geographic Endurance was surrounded by a sampling of almost every species we had seen over the last week. Nesting albatrosses tucked away in the tussock grass eyed Zodiacs passing by, and thousands of macaroni penguins called out to each other and at passing skuas warning them away from their precious eggs. On the beaches, hundreds of Antarctic fur seals eyed us warily as we watched them battle for small parcels of territory on the cobbled shore; female fur seals fought the males off with even more vigor than other males – likely just wanting a moment’s rest with their newborn pups before the males claimed their rights over their harems. As the Endurance pulled anchor and started making her way north, she made one last stop to bow into a cove of Trinity Island. Here, thousands of macaroni penguins made a colony, and one hundred years ago, a small colony of fur seals survived the slaughter of the fur trade to repopulate the entire Southern Ocean.
National Geographic Endurance
National Geographic Endurance set sail from the western edge of the Falkland Islands late last evening, and we enjoyed a relaxing day at sea. Guests were treated to smooth seas with plenty of albatrosses soaring about the vessel. The morning was full of educational opportunities. The undersea team shared photos collected while exploring the diverse underwater environments that the Falkland Islands provide. Next came a presentation by marine biologist Connor Ryan who spoke about the dynamics of how plankton and seabirds dictate the ecological rhythms of the upper layer of the ocean. Such a trip as we have had is certainly hard to summarize. Over the past three weeks, we visited some of the most spectacular and densely populated wildlife regions on our planet. Today was a day of reflection, photo editing, fine food, and contemplation of all that has occurred.