Thursday, January 24, 2013

Antarctic Adventures - South Georgia - Fortuna Bay to Stromness

Day 7:
Thousands of Kings out at large
Beware the furries that snarl and charge
The claws that catch
The jaws that snatch
Then following Shackleton's march

That one might need some explaining... Furries is a nickname for fur seal. If you haven't read Lewis Carroll, then I'm not explaining the middle. Finally, the excursion that day involved checking out the Cumberland Bay formation turbidites, then following the last part of Shackleton's self-rescue hike out to the old whaling station Stromness.

Cumberland Bay formation turbidites, cute (but vicious) fur seal pups, keen geologists

King penguins looking kingly, turbidites in background

"Oakum boy" fluffy brown King baby

Reindeer kicking Oakum boy. Reindeer were introduced on South Georgia by the whaling Norwegians so they'd have something to hunt for sport when they were relaxing from hunting whales for their jobs. Both the reindeer and the penguin here are molting. While this photo triggers an automatic "awww, poor penguin" response, I can assure you that penguin came out fine. In fact, I watched this progress from the penguin waddling over to the grazing reindeer, flipper-flap at it a bunch, get kicked, fall down and bounce back like a Russian doll, flipper-flap some more, get kicked, bounce back, waddle & chase, and then the reindeer ran away. I was impressed and astounded.

Totally rad float of weakly metamorphosed turbidite shale (now slate/phyllite...) atop ridges formerly buried beneath glacier. Things that are amazing: this was covered in glacier less than a century ago when Shackleton etc. hiked it. The freeze-thaw has split the rock beautifully along the metamorphic fabric's cleavage, but the glacier retreated by melting so the split fabric is still side by side within the now-accordion-like confines of the original plucked material!

The view of Stromness below as we reached the spot that Shackleton etc. would have jumped for joy at the prospect of "civilization" and sanctuary had they any energy for jumping at that point.

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