Robin's Adventures

Antarctic Expedition
A Party with Penguins

Incubating Eggs

King penguins are serially monogamous. That means that while they have only one mate each year and are faithful to that mate, they generally select a new mate each year.

Kings do not build a nest, but rather incubate the egg by holding it on their feet under a flap of skin called a brood patch.

More Eggs

King eggs are incubated for about 55 days and then the young chick spends the next 30 to 40 days balanced on its parent's feet under the brood patch. During this time, parents alternate caring for the chick and hunting for food.

Those Awkward Teenage Years

Young King penguins are covered with brown downy feathers that keep them warm, but are not waterproof. The young chicks form a group called a creche and generally a few adults work together to guard this group while the parents are out to sea getting food. Once the chicks molt, at about 14 months, they get their adult feathers and are ready to go to sea.

The brown chicks are often referred to as "Oakum Boys." The name comes from the boys on the sailing ships whose job was to insert tarred rope fibers called Oakum into the seams of the wooden boats to make them watertight. By the end of a workday, the boys had the fibers stuck all over their shirts, hands, and face.

On the Zodiac

Whenever we needed to get to the shore, or back to the ship, we would take a short ride on the zodiac. This particular ride was a smooth one with no winds or swells.

Drygalski Fjord, South Georgia Island

The Drygalski Fjord is located on the southeast coast of South Georgia Island. It is one mile wide, seven miles long, and noteworthy because of its spectacular scenery.

Scenic Wonderland

The Drygalski Fjord is a scenic wonderland filled with colorful icebergs and surrounded by toothed snowcapped mountains with many hanging glaciers.

More Scenic Wonders

The scenery included several waterfalls formed by glacial runoff and some gorgeous displays of glacial ice. Many of the glaciers were hanging off the land and into the ocean and some had broken off major chunks creating an assortment of beautiful icebergs.

Antarctic Birds

The Blue Eyed Shag is an excellent fisherman that can dive to depths of about 80 feet. When swimming, they tuck in their wings and propel themselves forward with their webbed feet.

The Antarctic Skua is into kleptoparasitism. It harasses other birds in flight, which causes them to drop their food. Then the Skua steals the food.

Southern Giant Petrels are about three feet long and have a six and a half foot wingspan. They have a prominent tube on top of their beak, which helps them smell prey as they fly over the ocean. The tubenose is also useful for removing excess salt from the bird's body.

The Black-Browed Albatross lives most of its life at sea and returns to land only during breeding season. These birds can fly at speeds up to 70 mph.

Snow Petrels have the most southerly breeding location of any bird. To choose a mate, the female will fly in elaborate acrobatic-like patterns and see if the male can keep up with her.

More Antarctic Birds

Snowy Sheathbills are the only Antarctic bird that does not have webbed feet. They spend a great deal of time on the ground and try to reduce heat loss by hopping around on one foot.

Antarctic Prions eat plankton by filtering water through their upper bill. They are easily identifiable because they have a dark "M" across their backs.

The Antarctic Tern has a distinctive black cap of feathers on its head during breeding season which it looses through molting for the rest of the year. These birds will dive bomb if you get too close to their nests.

Dolphin Gulls love to eat mussels and will drop them onto rocks in order to break the shells and make them easier to eat.

Kelp Gulls have been seen feeding on Right Whales. They stand on the whale's back and peck down into the skin and blubber leaving behind open sores on the whale.

Through the Scotia Sea

The Scotia Sea, which is located between the tip of South America to the north and Antarctica to the south, is characteristically both cold and rough. We spent two days at sea while we headed from South Georgia Island to Antarctica. As we took our last look at South Georgia, there was some spectacular scenery and an amazing sunset.