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Alex Douglas-Kane shares her experiences and understanding of Discover Nature Awareness

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Sailing to South Georgia

While serving in the Falklands, I had the opportunity to sail down to South Georgia some one thousand miles from the Antarctic. Ten days sailing (round trip) on the Grey Rover, I spent the majority of my time out on deck bird watching popping inside every so often to drink hot sweet tea and then back out on deck again. Everyone on board thought I was mad.

I saw many wonderful things, like awhole bunch of pilot whales which ran into the bow of the ship, and there were the Tunny fish way off in the distance, a cross between a mackerel and a tuna fish. Plenty of birds were to be seen like, Black-browed and Yellow-nosed Albatross and there was one way of in the distance that reminded me of a B52 bomber namely the Wandering Albatross, what a magnificent bird to behold sailing effortlessly over the waves. One day we had a Wilson's Storm-petrel land on board; it was amazing to be able to hold such a delicate bird in my hands.

We sailed past Bird Island docking later at Grytviken, South Georgia. I went for a walk along the coastline to take a closer look at a glacier when I came across a Weddell Seal just lazing away on the beach; what a moment that was to be so closed to a wild animal. The seal seemed to be just as curious about me as I was about him or her.

The whaling stations on the Island were something else, even though they had been abounded many years previously, there was still an eerie feeling to the place; you could imagine the whales being dragged up the slopes to be prepared for human needs. I also had the privilege of being in the presence of Earnest Shackleton's grave, and strangely enough, buried close by to his grave was an Argentinean Officer.

There was one evening on board ship it started to snow and as I watched it come down I realised that the snow was settling on the sea I had never seen this before, the snow remained for a long time on the surface of the sea. There were of course ice bergs everywhere from small to ones that dwarfed the ship, I even got to see an ice berg flip over 180 degrees.

I had three attempts to get to South Georgia as I was hoping to see the 4.3 million King Penguins that breed there, alas it was not meant to be, but none the less I had a wonderful time and to have the privilege to experience something that very few people on this earth will ever get to see and for that I am very grateful.

All photos by Geoffrey:

Looking out from Shackleton's grave at the Grey Rover and Grytviken in the distance.

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