-SKUAS, GENTOOS and WEDDELL SEALS, OH MY!
This morning we returned to the South Shetland Islands to a small inner harbor. Yankee Harbour is entered from Shopski Cove between Glacier Bluff and Spit Point, indenting the south-west side of Greenwich Island.
To our delight we are able to visit the Gentoo Penguins once again. It's day five of exceptional weather in Antarctica with clear, sunny skies and blessed calm seas. We have it on good authority that in the past few days the Gentoos have been busy hatching their babies and everyone was very excited at having the opportunity to see the little ones.
Since it's only about 40 degrees F. outside and the sun is abundant, the typically protective parents have been allowing the baby Gentoos to poke up their little heads up from time to time. Baby Gentoos are grey scraggly little things that keep warm by being nestled under the Mommy or Daddy Gentoo and it is a true delight to watch the baby chicks look around and peck at their parent's beak - their way of asking for food.
Menacing Skuas flew overhead looking for a neglectful parent but thankfully we did not see a baby plucked from it's nest. I honestly don't know how I could have managed watching that. We did see the three Skuas get into an altercation with each other though and it was pretty nasty. These are ugly, brown, giant birds with wingspans that when fully extended are shockingly wide. To add to their threatening appearance they have hooked beaks that can easily crack penguin eggs. On our way back to the Zodiac, we saw two penguin eggs that apparently had fallen prey to their aggression at some point earlier in the day.
Also in the harbor were Weddell seals. That's five tons of love just lying in the sun. One of the seals we viewed woke up from his nap and moved toward the shore. He resembled an enormous stuffed sausage. They have tiny faces with ginormous bodies. Our Zodiac driver and expedition leader, Robin West, told us that seal pups are abandoned by their mothers at just a few months old. Craving contact, the early pups will try to snuggle up to humans just to have some affection. Sure, I like the strong, silent type, but that's way too much love for me to handle, I think.
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Michael and I travel mostly because we like learning and experiencing new things, seeing new places and learning about different cultures and food that only comes from getting out and about in the world.