23 photos

THESE IMAGES ARE FROM A 2014 TRIP TO SOUTH GEORGIA ISLAND. FOR MORE -- AND QUITE DIFFERENT -- IMAGES, FROM A 2008 TRIP, CLICK HERE, TO LOOK AT THAT A GALLERY.

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Lying east and slightly south of the Falklands is the spectacular mountainous South Georgia Island. This island, only 100 by 25 miles in size, is the home of the largest colonies of King Penguins in the world, with a colony of over 250,000 at the Salisbury Plain, in the Bay of Isles, and a colony of approximately 300,000 animals at the picturesque St. Andrew’s Bay. King Penguins grow to about 3 feet tall and weigh over 30 pounds and are second in size, in the penguin world, only to King Penguins. Emperor Penguins, depicted in the film “March of the Penguins,” admittedly have what are probably the cutest chicks, but the King Penguin is more dramatically colored and probably the most handsome in the adult penguin world.

South Georgia Island is also home to Southern Elephant Seals and Southern Fur Seals. These fur seals (also called Antarctic Fur Seals), are but one of the nine species of fur seals are actually in the Sea Lion family (Otariidae, or eared seals). These animals are distinguished from true seals, in that they have external ears, can “stand” on their front flippers, use their front flippers for propulsion underwater, and can rotate their hind feet forward and ambulate with speed on land. Male Southern Fur Seals grow to more than 400 pounds and are about 4 times as large as the females. Their entire population resides on sub-Antarctic islands, and 95% of the world’s population of these animals lives on South Georgia. Fur Seal pups are quite playful, and, given their size and age, they can be aggressive. As shown in two of the shots in this gallery, they will often harass adult penguins. More than that, they will also attempt to be “tough guys” with passing tourists, by charging them. Generally these aggressive charges are almost humorous, and can be turned back by a small, thin stick . . . or almost anything; but, on our trip, one visitor was actually bitten on the leg. Not surprisingly, the bite was not serious.

There are only two species of Elephant Seals, southern and northern. Northern Elephant Seals live in Baja California, and the West Coast of North America and can be found in large numbers in California, at Año Nuevo State Park, south of San Francisco, and Piedras Blancas, near the southern range of Big Sur and north of San Simeon. Southern Elephant Seals are larger than their northern cousins, with the males growing up to 20 feet in length and almost 9,000 (!) pounds in weight. This makes them the largest seals in the world. Females are drastically smaller, growing up to 2,000 pounds in weight and 10 feet in length. This size difference, based on sex (“sexual dimorphism”) is perhaps the largest of any mammal.

Macaroni Penguins are visually similar to Rockhopper Penguins and are the world’s most numerous penguins.

King Penguins, Fortuna Bay 9429

King Penguins, Fortuna Bay 9429

King Penguins, Fortuna Bay 9536

King Penguins, Fortuna Bay 9536

King Penguins, Fortuna Bay 9538

King Penguins, Fortuna Bay 9538

King Penguins, Gold Harbour 0030

King Penguins, Gold Harbour 0030

Egg exchange, St. Andrews Bay 9938

Egg exchange, St. Andrews Bay 9938

King Penguins mating, Fortuna Bay 9480

King Penguins mating, Fortuna Bay 9480

King Penguin Colony, St. Andrews Bay 9856

King Penguin Colony, St. Andrews Bay 9856

King Penguin Colony, Gold Harbour 0129

King Penguin Colony, Gold Harbour 0129

Elephant Seals, Gold Harbour 0020

Elephant Seals, Gold Harbour 0020

Elephant Seals, Gold Harbour 0031

Elephant Seals, Gold Harbour 0031

Antarctic Fur Seal Pups, Salisbury Plain 9349

Antarctic Fur Seal Pups, Salisbury Plain 9349

Antarctic Fur Seal Pup, Salisbury Plain 9356

Antarctic Fur Seal Pup, Salisbury Plain 9356

Antarctic Fur Seal Pups, Salisbury Plain 9358

Antarctic Fur Seal Pups, Salisbury Plain 9358

Antarctic Fur Seal, Gold Harbour 0136

Antarctic Fur Seal, Gold Harbour 0136

Antarctic Fur Seal Pup, Fortuna Bay 9563

Antarctic Fur Seal Pup, Fortuna Bay 9563

Antarctic Fur Seal Pup, Fortuna Bay 9556

Antarctic Fur Seal Pup, Fortuna Bay 9556

Macaroni Penguin, Hercules Bay 9662

Macaroni Penguin, Hercules Bay 9662

Macaroni Penguin, St. Andrews Bay 9756

Macaroni Penguin, St. Andrews Bay 9756

Macaroni Penguins, Hercules Bay 9690

Macaroni Penguins, Hercules Bay 9690

Macaroni Penguin, Hercules Bay 9638

Macaroni Penguin, Hercules Bay 9638