Episode 3: Photos

Drygalski Fjord, South Georgia (2007) — At the end of the fjord, highlighted by sediment and rock, the Risting Glacier calves massive ice chunks (sometimes taller than ships) to reveal the underlying pure, blue ice. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

Southern Ocean to South Georgia (2007) — Measuring the amount of side-to-side roll, the ship’s clinometer has two curved, liquid-filled tubes with a bubble trapped inside each. As the ship tips one way or the other, the bubbles remain at the highest points, so the amount of roll can be read from the scales. This clinometer shows a roll to the right of between 1° and 2° while en route. In rough seas it was not uncommon for the top tube to be maxed out. However, if a roll to the left or right maxed out the bottom tube, the ship would not roll back. It would sink. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

DVD Chapter / St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia (2007) — Near a cairn on Mount Skittle was a great place to park a backpack and take in the view. Below, a massive king penguin colony spreads from the shore to the edges of the rapidly receding Cook Glacier and Heaney Glacier. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

Prion Island, South Georgia (2007) — Antarctic fur seals are very territorial and aggressive. They bark loudly and even charge. I got charged at a bunch of times. I didn’t carry a walking stick or anything like that. If a fur seal did make a run at me, I’d have to lift my leg up so that its snout would hit the sole of my boot. That was enough to stop it and have it back away. I learned this trick from one of the guides—and I’m still walking around with both feet. However, these pups were just two big puffs of fur. They tried so hard to be fierce, tiny growling and all. It was completely endearing. I found myself saying to them, “Yes, I’m terrified. You’re doing such a fine job.” (Photo by Dan Linehan)

Salisbury Plain, South Georgia (2007) — Elephant seal pups suckle for about three weeks. Afterward, they are called weaners or weanlings, as shown here. Before going to sea to feed for the first time after suckling, they fast for about 4 to 8 weeks as their bodies mature. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

Salisbury Plain, South Georgia (2007) — Away from shore, this whale vertebra seems like a totem. Several feet tall, the vertebra has three large bone projections called processes: a tall, lateral process pointing upward and two transverse processes sticking out to the sides. They are anchors for the whale’s muscles to attach to the spinal column. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

Prion Island, South Georgia (2007) — Capable of exceeding 11 feet, the wingspans of wandering albatrosses are the largest of any flying bird. Wandering albatrosses can easily fly hundreds of miles a day on feeding runs that extend for thousands of miles. They cover these enormous distances by specialized soaring that allows them to ride the winds and hardly flap their wings. In fact, they use less energy flying than they do sitting on the water. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

Prion Island, South Georgia (2007) — As magnificent as they are in the air, wanderers can put on wonderful dance performances on land during courtship. Some of their moves include: allopreening, bowing, flagging, front preen, head roll, pointing (the “head forward low” step is shown here), rattle, side preen, sky call, sky point, snap, yammering, and yapping. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

Grytviken, South Georgia (2007) — People had already gained enough knowledge to successfully orbit themselves in spacecraft around Earth before this whaling station was finally abandoned. As far as whaling and other related activities go, wisdom still seems to be elusive. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

Hercules Bay, South Georgia (2007) — Once a year, elephant seals molt their entire skin. During this time, they stay ashore. This elephant seal is not looking as cute as the weaner. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

Hercules Bay, South Georgia (2007) — To the untrained eye, this may look like the macaroni penguins are in hot pursuit of the chinstrap penguin. Considering the speed at which they all waddle, this would be a very long chase. But actually, there was one chinstrap penguin—just one—at almost every single one of our landing sites. I’m far from an animal behaviorist, but I do have a wild theory about why one and only one chinstrap was at each of these landing sites. The chinstraps are possibly trying to convert the other penguins to their version of penguinism. Chinstraps send out these emissaries, or missionaries, if you like. Looking closely at the chinstrap’s namesake, doesn’t it look like a Jesuit beard? (Photo by Dan Linehan)

Hercules Bay, South Georgia (2007) — The macaroni penguins have long crests of yellow feathers over the eyes that drape off to the sides. Their name is said to have come from a similar-looking “macaroni” hairstyle that was en vogue with people at the time this species was discovered. These penguins closely resemble rockhoppers. However, macaronis are noticeably larger and typically less boisterous. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

Hercules Bay, South Georgia (2007) — If blonds do have more fun, then this fur seal resting with its head on the rocks must have been wiped out from the night before. Not an albino, the blond coloration is a rare color morph of fur seals. One study reports a frequency of occurrence at 1 blond for every 1,700 fur seals. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

Hercules Bay, South Georgia (2007) — This nylon fishing net won’t degrade in this fur seal’s lifetime. Nor will it degrade over the course of the lifetimes of many other creatures. When large nets are lost from boats or discarded on purpose into the sea, they float around until they are so full of dead animals that they sink to the bottom. After enough of the dead animals are removed from the nets by decomposition or by bottom-feeders, the nets float back up and start the deadly cycle all over again. These are called ghost nets. During a light snow, this juvenile fur seal tries to pull at the nylon netting that is choking it to death as it grows. It doesn’t have much time left to live. Every time the seal feeds, it is slowly killing itself. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

Cumberland Bay to Grytviken, South Georgia (2007) — The Southern Ocean is full of enormous factory fishing ships. At times it seems there are more of them visible than whales. I wish I was only being poetic here. Hundreds of feet long, they practice three main types of fishing: netting, long-lining, and bottom-dragging. Krill is the lifeblood of the Southern Ocean. These inch-long, shrimplike animals feed the fish, the penguins, the other birds, the seals, and the whales. They are a keystone species. In other words, without krill, the waters and the land of Antarctica and its surroundings would essentially be barren of life as we now recognize it. Monterey learned the hard way when fisheries collapsed after sardines were overfished and the sea otter, another keystone species, was about 50 animals away from extinction. Ships similar to this one use gigantic nets to scoop up the krill by the ton. For bottom-fishing, nets are also used. But the nets are dragged along the seafloor. The seafloor is stripped clean, and the ecosystem is left in ruins. Not everything caught in the nets is being targeted. This bycatch of dead and dying animals is then tossed overboard. The last main technique is long-line fishing. Here a ship trails lines that are up to 50 miles long. As the long lines are set with hooks and bait, seabirds, especially albatrosses, try to get the bait before it sinks. They get hooked and drown. Worldwide, more than 100,000 albatrosses a year get killed by fishing vessels. Since there is little regulation and enforcement, even the simplest fixes, which could save countless animals from becoming collateral damage, are not employed. Out of sight, out of mind. This is the kind of stuff that doesn’t make it onto the television shows. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

Cumberland Bay to Grytviken, South Georgia (2007) — The HMS Edinburgh, a British destroyer known as the “Fortress of the Sea,” patrols off the coast of South Georgia. While on deployment in the Southern Ocean, it did not sail all the way to Antarctica. Of the five oceans on Earth, the Southern Ocean is not the smallest of them. It would be a lot of water for just one ship to cover. The Edinburgh was decommissioned in 2013. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

Grytviken, South Georgia (2007) — In the southern hemisphere during the twentieth century, over 2 million whales were killed due to whaling. A vast majority of them were killed in Antarctic and subantarctic waters. This whale skull belonged to one. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

Grytviken, South Georgia (2007) — Whale carcasses were towed into King Edward Cove by whale catchers then chained by the tail and dragged ashore to the flensing plan (see the lines of chains in the open area at the middle of the station pointing toward the shoreline). After the carcasses were cut up by large, hockey stick-shaped flensing knives, the surrounding cookeries processed the blubber, meat, and bone. Whale oil was finally pumped into the giant storage tanks at the lower right of the station. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

Grytviken, South Georgia (2007) — The shape of the harpoon tip bears a striking resemblance to the shape of the old church steeple. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

Grytviken, South Georgia (2007) — Whaling was done by using an explosive-tipped harpoon launched by a cannon, as shown on the bow of this engine-powered whaler. No hand-thrown harpoons. No rowing after the whales. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

DVD Chapter / Tierra del Fuego, Argentina (2007) — The small, yellow flowers of a thorny calafate bush growing near Lake Fagnano are gone, but the bush will eventually produce branches full of sweet, dark blue berries. For now, it is hard to find even an unripe berry. Bittersweet legends handed down from the indigenous people tell of how some were transformed into these bushes to protect their lives. It is also said that after you have eaten a calafate berry, then someday you will return. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

Fortuna Bay, South Georgia (2007) — Milky white glacial flour colors the blue water of the bay. Gravity slowly moves glaciers, causing them to grind over the rocky surfaces that they cover. This action creates the very fine rock dust of glacial flour. So, when glaciers retreat, the glacial flour mixes in with all the meltwater. The glacial flour here has come from the König Glacier, which before entering the bay has washed over part of the route Sir Ernest Shackleton took while returning to safety after being shipwrecked in Antarctica. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

Fortuna Bay, South Georgia (2007) — A herd of caribou races by, as penguins and fur seals can be seen resting in the background. In 1911, 10 caribou were released in South Georgia. By 2010, the population had risen to 2,600. Without natural predators, the invasive caribou population grew out of control. Overgrazing had caused denuding of important habitats and trampling of penguin colonies and other species. An eradication program has since eliminated caribou from the island. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia (2007) — This king penguin high-steps beside a raging rivulet of meltwater streaming off the Heaney Glacier. Once at the edge of the shore, this glacier has retreated more than a mile inland over the last few decades. The amount of fresh water melting off of it and flowing into the salty bay is staggering. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia (2007) — At about 200,000 pairs, the colony here is the largest king penguin colony in the world. Covering a vast area, it is bounded by the eastern shore, mountain ridges to the north and south, and the faces of the receding glaciers to the west. Penguins in all stages of life can be found here, including: parents on eggs, chicks in brown down coats, and penguins molting their adult feathers. Like emperor penguins, kings rest their eggs on the tops of their feet for incubation. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia (2007) — Years of freezing and thawing cycles split apart large rocks, creating loose piles of shard-like fragments called scree. Gaining footing while traversing slippery hillsides covered in scree can sometimes be a challenge. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia (2007) — From the top of the Heaney Glacier, about a mile inland, the westernmost edge of the king penguin colony can be seen. The glacier ice is covered by moraine, which is sediment caused by the grinding away of rocks by the moving glacier. Melting on the face, sides, underneath, and top was causing the glacier to collapse all around. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia (2007) — As the seasons go by, the looks of elephant seals really take a dive. Perhaps it is the hard living of traveling thousands of miles to forage, holding their breath for about an hour when diving as deep as a mile, or suffering because most of the females belong to harems controlled by older, tougher elephant seals. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

DVD Chapter / Ushuaia, Argentina (2007) — Shops, hotels, and the Museo del Fin del Mundo on Avenida Maipú, which runs along the harbor, are only a short walk from the ships docked at Puerto Ushuaia. The distinctive shapes of Mount Olivia and the Five Brothers stand tall in the distance to the north. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

Gold Harbour, South Georgia (2007) — By far the largest of all seals, male southern elephant seals can reach about 8,800 pounds. The species exhibits extreme sexual dimorphism, with females only weighing up to 2,000 pounds. The subadult elephant seals gathered here are already about as long as the Zodiacs. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

Gold Harbour, South Georgia (2007) — The light-mantled sooty albatross is another rare albatross nesting on South Georgia. This small albatross prefers more solitary, hillside nests tucked away in the high tussac grass. Like wanderers, they have a two-year breeding cycle. Research indicates that their populations, just like the wanderers’, are significantly declining due to being hooked and drowned by long-line fishing. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia (2007) — This might be one of those older, tougher elephant seals. It has become a massive, ugly blob. But it sure looks content. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia (2007) — Overlooking the giant king penguin colony here, a chick stands on a dune formed by glacial sediment. The chick is called an oakum boy because the color and texture of its brown, down feathers make them resemble fragments of oakum rope used by sailors. Oakum and tar was used to plug holes and seal ships, so sailors given this task would be tar and oakum covered. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

Shingle Cove, South Orkneys (2007) — On Coronation Island, this muddy Adélie penguin chick is not having a good day—nor do the upcoming days hold much promise—in its horribly unfortunate attire. As evidenced by the color of the mud, a substantial amount of the Adélie penguin diet comes from krill, which contain red-staining iodine. The poor chick cannot even take a dip in the ocean to clean off because its down feathers aren’t waterproof. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

Shingle Cove, South Orkneys (2007) — The vibrant colors of this Adélie penguin colony have very surprising demarcations. The grey, rocky surface with a patch of snow in the background has few penguins. In the middle ground, yellowish-orange lichen coats rock sticking up from a green carpet of moss. A few penguins can be seen here, too. The largest congregation of penguins, mostly chicks, collects in the foreground. Here, their excrement, produced after healthily dining on iodine-containing krill, infuses the mud and turns it dark red. At least the adult is smart enough to stand on a rock. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

Shingle Cove, South Orkneys (2007) — Though it’s not breeding season yet, these older male elephant seals are practice fighting for the time when they will have to compete against the other males for mates. Aside from their roughed up skin, they have noticeable proboscises, the fleshly growths running along the tops of their snouts to their nostrils. (Photo by Dan Linehan)

Iceberg Bay, South Orkneys (2007) — Finding animal shapes in the clouds is as simple as staring up at the sky. Finding animal-shaped icebergs wasn’t as difficult as it sounds. This eagle was discovered during a Zodiac cruise off the coast of Coronation Island. (Photo by Dan Linehan)