In the early afternoon we landed on Steeple Jason island, a somewhat precarious scramble from the zodiac to the rocks in a small cove. There were traces of farming activity from long ago but the island has been uninhabited for some time.
Many went off to try to find the albatrosses in their colonies but few managed to find their way through the very high tussock grass. Perhaps fortunately, I had noticed the great sea highway of gentoo penguins near where we landed and settled in to photograph them. At the end, I just had time to snatch a few landscapes before we were summoned to an early departure.
Most of these penguins have yellow beaks except the bottom one who has an orange one (there were also a few others). The gentoo penguins at Vernadsky Station had orange beaks so perhaps this is a stray from Antarctica.
I was particularly looking to get gentoos porpoising so I was very pleased to catch the shot above. This is not easy to do because they suddenly bounce up out of the water and then disappear again and it’s difficult to predict where it might happen.
As I was observing the penguins from my elevated vantage point I observed very fast white shapes zooming around in the water. At first I thought, wow, those fish can move really fast. Then I realised it was the penguins. These little fellows are speed demons, underwater racing cars, twisting and turning below the waves.
On the left above, an immature rock cormorant, on the right a gentoo penguin
Steeple Jason Island with gentoo penguins in foreground