Robin's Adventures

Antarctic Expedition
A Party with Penguins

Ernest Shackleton

Ernest Shackleton was a British explorer who led three expeditions in Antarctica between 1901 and 1917. He came back on a fourth expedition in 1921, but died from a heart attack. He is buried in the cemetery at Grytviken.

Early in the trip we both read the book "Endurance" which described the details of Shackleton's third expedition and all of the hardships that he and his crew faced while attempting to survive in the harsh Antarctic environment. It was a wonderful book and it gave us a great appreciation for all that we saw on our Antarctic adventure. At the cemetery, we were given the opportunity to toast this brave explorer.

South Georgia Museum

A museum was set up in 1991 at the former home of the whaling base manager. There are exhibits on the history of South Georgia Island, whaling, natural history, maritime history, and Antarctic exploration.


The Southern Elephant seal spends most of its life at sea and only returns to the colony to molt and to mate. During the time at sea, these animals spend 90% of their time submerged, coming up for air about every 20 to 30 minutes. These seals are powerful swimmers and tend to dive much deeper than other seals. Although the average dive will take them down between 1,300 and 3,300 feet, the deepest recorded dive was almost 7,000 feet.

The Antarctic Fur seal is the only Antarctic seal with visible ear flaps. They can move at speeds up to 12 mph on land and generally only come to the island for breeding and molting. The fur seal usually hunts at depths around 100 feet and stay submerged for 3 to 4 minutes at a time.

Ships and Kings

While at Grytviken, we saw a research vessel in port along with the old rusted remains of a former whaling ship. In addition, we were met by a welcoming committee of our old friends, the King penguins.

Gold Harbor, South Georgia Island

The majestic mountains and cliffs of the Salvesen Range surround Gold Harbor. It is believed that the harbor got its name because the cliffs appear yellow when they reflect the sun's light at sunrise and sunset.

There are some spectacular hanging glaciers on the cliffs above the harbor and a couple of small waterfalls where the melt water cascades down the cliff into the ocean.

Entertaining Elephant Seals

Male elephant seals generally weigh 5,000 to 8,800 pounds and are typically six times larger than the females. The large proboscis helps them amplify their roar, which they use when establishing dominance during the breeding season.

The most powerful males not only have the largest harems, but also the largest territory in the best location along the beach. Since the males must stay in their territory to protect it for as long as three months, it is a time of fasting and while living off of their stored blubber the males often lose as much as 40% of their body weight. The most powerful males can have 50 to 100 females in their harem.

Elephant Seals Dancing for Dominance

Gentoo Penguins

The most distinguishing characteristic of the Gentoo penguin is the white bonnet-like stripe across the forehead. This species also has a bright orangish-red bill, pale pink feet, and the longest tail of all the brushtail penguins.

Gentoos swim at speeds up to 22 mph, which is faster than any other penguin species. An adult Gentoo may make up to 450 dives per day when hunting for food.

King Penguins

King penguins are adapted to drinking salt water. They have the ability to separate the salt out once it is in their stomach. They usually swim at a speed of 4 to 6 mph and their diet consists mostly of small fish and squid. They are especially fond of lanternfish.

So Laid Back

Penguins tend to stand on their heels with the rest of the foot tilted upward when on land. This behavior helps them prevent heat loss because there is less contact with the icy surface.