Only a face a mother could love. This “adorable” full grown male elephant seal, was basking in the sun, laying on its back, fast asleep, snoring deep zzzzzzzzz. These suckers can grow up to 20 ft and come in close to 9,000 pounds. You can see the bloodied gnash marks all along the side of its head, which are from the fights with other males, fighting over territory and female seals. Every time it let out air, its proboscis, the bulbous nose with a sack-like appendage, would flutter back and forth. It was like one of those Disney or Warner Bros. cartoons from back in the day, when the cartoon character would be sleeping on their backs and their lips or nose would flutter and expand in an overly exaggerated way. Only on males, this proboscis and the more folds it has, allows for it to amplify snorts, grunts and loud, drum-like bellows that can be heard miles away. When you are standing 15-20 feet away and a male starts grunting, you feel it rattling your soul.
St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
GPS Coordinates: 54°26'9.96" S 36°11'16.817" W
After we landed on the beachhead at Salisbury Plain, we were immediately engulfed by swarms of King Penguins like this. There were so many right near the water’s edge, that the zodiac drivers had to be careful not to hit them, as they tried to come ashore and land. While smaller in the numbers compared to St. Andrews Bay, with about 50,000 more, I liked Salisbury just a tad bit more, due to how accessible and close you could get to the main colony. You walked probably an eighth of a mile and there you were, standing in front of a 250,000 King Penguin colony, complete with the full grown adults and their puffy brown kids.
Salisbury Plain, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
GPS Coordinates: 54°3'37.331" S 37°19'25.98" W
Imagine trying to photograph a fast moving bird in the sky about a hundred feet or more from you. Now imagine doing that, but while on a boat, in the middle of the South Atlantic, in choppy waves, trying to balance yourself so you not only don’t fall overboard, but also steady yourself and hands enough, while fully zoomed in about 400mm, to get a tack sharp, in-focus shot. Not to mention all that, add in cold blowing wind and spray of the ocean, freezing your fingertips, face and body. This absolutely beautiful Cape Petrel lined up just perfectly. I couldn’t believe it when I got back and looked through the loads and loads of photo bursts and found this gem. Just stunning!
South Atlantic, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
GPS Coordinates: 53°15'7.506" S 45°45'47.028" W