Day 7 |
Feb 26, 2010

Salisbury Plain, South Georgia

By Stefan Kredel, Geologist

Co-ordinates:  54°03’S, 37°22’W

Weather: first overcast, later mainly sunny

Air Temperature: 5°C

Even though we lost an hour last night, I got up at 6:00 o’clock new / South Georgia time. I went up to the Observation Lounge for a quick coffee. Surprisingly I was not the only one up there. So I had already a nice chat about the first icebergs that were now visible.

After that, I went to the Bridge and Zorran, the officer on watch, told me that from about 10:00 o’clock, land should be in sight. So meanwhile I decided to have breakfast in The Restaurant. The guests I joined there where quite amazed about the amount of huge icebergs that we passed.

At 09:00 o’clock our fearless Expedition Leader Robin West had scheduled a staff meeting. He and the Captain had quite some concerns about the huge swell we were experiencing and the effect of that for our planed landing site in the afternoon. Alternatives were discussed, even so it was decided still to go first to our original planned destination and see how the conditions were there.

After the meeting I went out on deck and, with Will, Kara and Hans-Peter, spent some time with guests. The high mountains of South Georgia were now clearly visible as the clouds had started to disappear, and a lot of birds showed up – in the air and in the water. Also some fur seals showed some interest in our ship before they disappeared again in the ocean. And not to forget all the huge tabular icebergs that we passed. So there was quite a lot to see and talk about. And the deck was pretty full of cameras and their owners …

After an early lunch we arrived at Salisbury Plain, our destination for the afternoon. Our original planned landing site was affected by a big swell and the waves broke in a manner that a safe landing operation was not possible. But as so often exists, there was a plan B. The landing site was moved quite a bit away from the main colony of king penguins. For that the guests needed to walk about 2 km to get there, but on the other hand, they could get dry and safely onto shore!

So I was driving the Zodiac for the disembarkation, and after the last guests were brought ashore, I was guiding them to the colony. Salisbury is meant to have one of the largest king penguin colonies in the world. Published numbers of the amount of penguins vary, but none of them is below 100,000! The way to the colony was spectacular as we passed a lot of young fur seals, some elephant seals and endless numbers of king penguins!

Once we arrived at the colony, I suggested to my group to find a nice place and just to sit down and enjoy it, instead of rushing around from one place to another. And most did so. As we had no time rush, everyone could stay and enjoy as long as they wanted.

I came with some of the last guests back to the beach, and after being back on board, there was not much time as the Recap & Briefing was still on. And the briefing was important as tomorrow a longer hike was planned. After Robin explained the details of that, Will talked a bit about birds, Kara showed a satellite transmitter which most probably an elephant seal had lost and Peter talked about history.