Reindeer and spaceships on the Stromness headland

The zodiacs prepared to land on a small beach across the bay from the Stromness whaling station. Over the steep headland lay Leith whaling station, where Europa would re-anchor and collect us. The kelp is thick along these rocks, giving us a challenge to get close enough in to land. The … Continue reading

M is for migration and life on Mars: #AntarcticAlphabet

Penguin chicks lie among the pebbles. Still nearly complete, some of them, beaks agape and wings extended as if the raw spine might haul itself up and zombie-walk to the sea. Remnants are arranged into memento mori, reminiscent of Victorian child shrines kept by loving mothers. Scraps of bone and feather … Continue reading

Working on the highway

All colonies have a highway (or several) to the sea, like this one at Salisbury Plain. They use this route to the sea and it is important not to disrupt it: penguins have right of way on their commute. The chinstraps, like those at Half Moon Bay, like their rocky, … Continue reading

Prion Island: nesting wanderers

The prion (in Antarctica, where there are no cows) is an abundant seabird. There are several species, primarily differentiated by their bills. They fly fast and low and so I have no good pictures of them. The point of Prion Island In the Bay of Isles, though, is that it … Continue reading

Elsehul

The deep inlet of Elsehul, its steep sides coated in tussac grass, was out introduction to the wild, extraordinary beautify of South Georgia. The water is shallow enough for kelp forests to wave in the choppy surface for the fur seals to play in, and home to fish, birds and … Continue reading

Bird Sound: arrival and biosecurity

The archipelago of South Georgia includes the study site of Bird Island, lying just off the north-western tip of the main island. Between them lies a rocky, narrow channel known as Bird sound. The detailed chart shows that the deeper water (the white bits) reduces to a narrow channel between … Continue reading

#AntarcticAlphabet: K is for kelp

Kelp connects everything, from the Orkneys to the South Shetlands. Seafloor to surface, dark to light. Brown, red, ochre, rust within the grey/blue/white of the Antarctic seas. The simplicity of stipe and stem dancing inside the heart-breaking, never-ending complexity of the wave. And of course, almost mundane, the host of lives … Continue reading

Penguin island: supermarket of the South Shetlands

There were several Penguin Islands scattered around the world in the days of sealing and whaling and long distance exploration by sail. The ship would turn up and take away thousands of eggs, and slaughter, salt down and stow hundreds of penguins. Calling a landfall Penguin Island was liking planting … Continue reading