World Travel Tales

Elephant Island, Antarctica

Solo Macaroni

This lone macaroni penguin was surrounded by hundreds of chinstrap penguins. This photo is taken just meters from the location that 28 members of the Ernest Shackleton Expedition made landfall in their small life boats after their expedition boat, The Endurance, was crushed by sea ice and they struggled to live for over a year.

The following paragraph is from Ernest Shackleton's book, South, that is an outstanding testament to the condition of the men arriving on Elephant Island.

"Rowing carefully and avoiding the blind rollers which showed where sunken rocks lay, we brought the Stancomb Wills towards the opening in the reef. Then, with a few strong strokes we shot through on the top of a swell and ran the boat on to a stony beach. The next swell lifted her a little farther. This was the first landing ever made on Elephant Island, and a thought came to me that the honour should belong to the youngest member of the Expedition, so I told Blackborow to jump over. He seemed to be in a state almost of coma, and in order to avoid delay I helped him, perhaps a little roughly, over the side of the boat. He promptly sat down in the surf and did not move. Then I suddenly realized what I had forgotten, that both his feet were frost-bitten badly. Some of us jumped over and pulled him into a dry place. It was a rather rough experience for Blackborow, but, anyhow, he is now able to say that he was the first man to sit on Elephant Island."

Location: Elephant Island, Antarctica

Camera: Nikon D80 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
Settings: ISO 400, 1/640 sec at f/5.6.

Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Drink Time

This chinstrap penguin was waiting for the waves to roll in and he'd dip his head to get a mouthful. The seabirds, penguins included, can ingest the salt water and simply excrete excessive salt through the supraorbital gland on their beaks.

Location: Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Camera: Nikon D80 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
Settings: ISO 100, 1/80 sec at f/5.6.

Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Whale Bones

The spine of a whale carcass deteriorating in the harsh environment.

Location: Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Camera: Nikon D80 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
Settings: ISO 100, 1/160 sec at f/6.3.

Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Nesting Albatross

Albatross tending to her nest.

Location: Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Camera: Nikon D80 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
Settings: ISO 400, 1/500 sec at f/6.3.

Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Albatross

The albatross is the king of the skies here in Antarctica. They have an impressive wingspan of over four meters and are absolutely incredible to see soaring in the turbulent air around the islands or behind the ship.

Location: Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Camera: Nikon D80 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
Settings: ISO 400, 1/500 sec at f/6.3.

Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Chinstrap Penguin Walking Over Stones

Penguins are super agile swimmers who are able to dart in the opposite direction in an instant if being hunted in the water. But on land it's an entirely different story. They are clumsy and awkwardly flop onto their bellies to slide when the walking is too tough.

This chinstrap penguin negotiates the large round boulders of the beach in order to get to the surf.

Location: Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Camera: Nikon D80 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
Settings: ISO 200, 1/100 sec at f/8.

Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Nap Time

This baby leopard seal was napping on the sun-warmed rocks while his mother was out hunting for food. She was completely oblivious to our presence, or more likely just didn't care, and napped peacefully like this for hours while we wandered around. I was pretty lucky to have my camera aimed at her when she decided to let out a big yawn.

Location: Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Camera: Nikon D80 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
Settings: ISO 250, 1/160 sec at f/8.

Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Gentoo Crossing

This gentoo penguin is making his way over the rocky beach.

Location: Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Camera: Nikon D80 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
Settings: ISO 400, 1/400 sec at f/11.

Weddell Sea, Antarctica

Cold Water Kayaking

I shot this just as the bright sun was finding it's way through the thick morning fog that covered the area.

Location: Weddell Sea, Antarctica

Camera: Nikon D80 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
Settings: ISO 400, 1/2500 sec at f/8.

Weddell Sea, Antarctica

Taking the Plunge

Entering and exiting the water are dangerous times for penguins. It's difficult to see and they could be jumping into water surrounded by hunting seals, so they'll often wait around in a group and when one makes the plunge, it triggers an avalanche of penguins who all decide to go at once.

Location: Weddell Sea, Antarctica

Camera: Nikon D80 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
Settings: ISO 400, 1/500 sec at f/9.

Weddell Sea, Antarctica

Fast Ice Floe

The wind can shift the small ice around the Weddell Sea quite quickly, while the larger bergs move more slowly. Here is an example of the "fast ice" pushing into a lee shore and preventing easy access by boat.

Location: Weddell Sea, Antarctica

Camera: Nikon D80 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
Settings: ISO 200, 1/500 sec at f/8.

Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Predators and Prey

There is a lot of action going on in this photo. These adult adelie penguins are protecting their young hatchlings from the overhead advances of a common Antarctic predator, a skua, which is an opportunist and a scavenger who preys on unsuspecting young penguins.

As the bird approaches, the adult penguins all gather around the vulnerable chicks and poke their beaks in the air trying to deter the attack.

It was fascinating to be so close to this kind of wild interaction. In many other wildlife encounters, the presence of a human changes the way the wildlife behave, but here in Antarctica it was business as usual for the predators just trying to survive another day.

Location: Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Camera: Nikon D80 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
Settings: ISO 200, 1/400 sec a f/5.

Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Whaling Station Graveyard

This abandoned whaling station had a few marked graves at it, where bodies were just covered in rocks and marked with a cross.

In the background you can see a building that was used to house the whalers while at the station and a giant fuel tank that is succumbing to rust.

Location: Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Camera: Nikon D80 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
Settings: ISO 250, 1/100 sec at f/10.

Near Base Esperanza, Argentine Research Station, Antarctica

An Excellent Ride

We had just visited Base Esperanza, the Argentine research station in Antarctica, and were heading back to our ship, the Akademik Sergey Vavilov, by Zodiak. We came across these adelie penguins atop this beautifully sculpted iceberg which was glowing blue in the cold Antarctic water.

Location: Near Base Esperanza, Argentine Research Station, Antarctica

Camera: Nikon D80 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
Settings: ISO 400, 1/800 sec at f/7.1.

Weddell Sea, Antarctica

Adelie Penguins on the Ice

There was quite a thick fog over the shore when we boarded our Zodiac for a little tour of the bay. We didn't want to lose sight of our ship, Akademik Sergey Vavilov, so we had to be careful not to head too far away. Along the edge of the ice floe we saw this small group of adelie penguins lounging around in the sun that was peeking through the edge of the thick fog.

Location: Weddell Sea, Antarctica

Camera: Nikon D80 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
Settings: ISO 400, 1/1000 sec at f/8.0.