Antarctica Dream Expedition 7 – Fortuna Bay

South Georgia Island

The next stop on the Antarctica Dream Expedition was Fortuna Bay on South Georgia Island. I had been waiting for this location as reports, reputation and photographs gave high expectations that this was a true jewel in the Antarctica Crown.

First Light

Octantis had arrived in Fortuna Bay during the night so this was the first sight from our stateroom window. We lower the powered window in order to photograph without glass in the way. As usual, the outlook was cold, but it was comfortable in the room

on our Antarctica Dream Expedition this was our sighting of the early light at Fortuna Bay.
The sun just breaks over the mountains on a very foggy bay

Early morning mist

After breakfast and getting “suited up” for the bio security, we were on one of the first zodiacs to make the landing. The ground was snow covered and the sun was beginning to burn off the mist, revealing a lovely blue sky with some white puffies – just as I like it.

As the sun burnt off the mist this was our first step on land as part of our Antarctica Dream Expedition
First view on land as the mist is lifting

As we moved around Fortuna Bay we come across semi frozen lakes (it is the beginning of Summer after all) and I love capturing reflections. The glaciers just made it a must.

Antarctica Dream Expedition beautiful reflections of mountains and glaciers.
The mist is lifting but I cannot pass glaciers in a good reflection

As the mist had cleared away, the clouds were developing around the mountains giving a slightly eerie effect in contrast to the beautiful blue sky.

Antarctica Dream Expedition with clouds on the mountains at Fortuna Bay
Low and high clouds on the mountains in Fortuna Bay

The many glaciers and mountains on the opposite side of the fjord to the landing area were resplendent, reflecting in the almost calm waters.

Antarctica Dream Expedition mountains and glaciers across the fjord.
Glaciers across the fjord
Antarctica Dream Expedition a great panorama across the fjord on a sunny day
Panorama across the fjord
Antarctica Dream Expedition
Panorama across the fjord of the mountains and glaciers and whispy white puffies
Another reflection in still water on the Antarctica Dream Expedition
Another reflection in the semi frozen lake

Antarctica Dream Expedition glacier coming to the water in Fortuna Bay
The glacier around the bay from the landing zone comes to the fjords edge

Wildlife

Ensuring that we neither stress the wildlife or get in it’s way, it was great to slowly meander along the path laid out by the expedition team. Being an early landing there were less people on the land to get into photographs.

Another great benefit, in my mind, to our early landing was the carpet of snow upon which to photograph the wildlife. We were heading into the Antarctic summer, so by midday the snow had melted and was replaced by a lush green cover.

However, this was the first time the size of the boat was a distinct disadvantage. From this landing and all of the coming landings on the Antarctic Peninsula there was a limit of no more than 100 people ashore at any time. With 360 guests on board that meant a maximum time of one hour on land. This limited the time to study the subjects, absorb the landscape to tell the story of the wildlife and position for good lighting.

King Penguins

Soup of King Penguins looking out to water in Antarctica Dream Expedition
A group of King Penguins probably evaluating the risk to go hunting

Elephant Seal

The elephant seals were intermingled with fur seals, primarily along the shore. But no sensible fur seal was going to aggravate any of the elephant seals.

Antarctica Dream Expedition elephant seal lying on the beach
Elephant seal sunning himself

Fur seals

Gentoo Penguin

It is always fascinating to see Gentoo penguins walking as they tend to flap their wings a lot, probably maintaining their balance. The Gentoo tolerate the Kings and there are no territorial disputes.

Impact of the arrival of summer

Here is a group of predominantly King penguins towards the rear of the cove. A view of the image in great detail shows that they are in various stages of molting. In this state they cannot go to sea for food as their compromised coat will not protect them from the cold and they would die. So they have to wait for approximately two weeks before they can feed themselves again once their new coat of feathers has grown

Antarctica Dream Expedition group go King Penguins molting.
A group of molting King penguins away from the water

Giant Petrel

Snowy Sheathbill

The Snowy sheathbill (Chionis albus) is the only bird native to the Antarctic continent. It has a reputation for hitching rides on ships in order to move around the continent. This is because they do not have webbed feet and cannot land on the cold water. They migrate from Tierra del Fuego and the Falkland Islands, a trip too long for them to make in one flight. They come to Antarctica and feast on the droppings of penguins. While this sounds pretty awful, it is noted that the penguin scat comprises 50% digested Krill, which leaves plenty of nutrients in their droppings.

This was our first encounter with the species.

Antarctica Dream Expedition Snowy sheathbill hitching a lift
Snowy sheathbill Chionis albus hitching a lift on Octantis

Previous Antarctica Posts

If you have missed the previous entries pleas click on the appropriate link below

Antarctica Dream Adventure 01 – Ushuaia Southernmost City in the World

Antarctica Dream Adventure 02 – A Day at Sea and About Bio-Security.

Antarctica Dream Adventure 03 – Penguins At Last, West Point Island

Antarctica Dream Adventure 04 – Off-road to Volunteer Point and Penguins

Antarctica Dream Adventure 05 – Birds and Bergs en route to South Georgia Island

Antarctica Dream Adventure 6 – Grytviken, Old Whaling Station

Gear: Nikon Z 8, Nikkor Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S, Nikkor Z TC-1.4x S, Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S, NIK 6 Silver Efex

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One Response to Antarctica Dream Expedition 7 – Fortuna Bay

  1. Fred Schwering says:

    Great photos Richard. Thanks for all of the information about the different species.

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