Antarctica: Retracing Shackleton's Journey travel blog

Sunday, February 8

Day 12

St. Andrew’s Bay

This was another early morning, 4 am wake up for our zodiac landing at St. Andrew’s Bay. The sky was clear, and the sun rose golden on the horizon. We were there to see the King Penguin colony and took a leisurely walk along the two-mile beach. The King Penguins were everywhere, carrying out their business without paying us any attention. They filled the beach, and they lined a little pool where they were reflected in the still waters. Lots of Oakum Boys were huddled around. We made our way up a bluff and got a view that knocked us out. On the other side of the hill was a glacial river, winding in S curves to the sea. King Penguins seemed to take up every square inch of the entire expanse we could see. There must have been 100,000 pairs (!) of penguins. Pictures cannot do justice and words fail me in trying to describe how dense, how teeming with life we found this mile-long stretch of beach.

I had to return for a late morning stroll to look at it all over again. This time, I stood with a naturalist who showed me how to find a parent with an egg or even a chick in its brood pouch. He (or she) started to preen the feathers around her feet and then lifts up the pouch to roll the egg or check on the grey-skinned chick.

Meanwhile, all the Oakum Boys were huddling together and the awkward teenagers were going through embarrassing molts. The seals were chasing us and surfing in the waves, and the Elephant Seals bellowed. St. Andrew’s was nature at its most fulsome and majestic.

We cruised to another bay after lunch, but the captain found Hercules Bay too windy for anchorage. So we continued a bit farther to Cumberland East Bay, which has a magnificent glacier. I was too tire from the morning’s early wakeup and exertions, but Barry went out on the zodiac tour. His boat got very close to a major calving of the glacier that caused about a ten-foot wave. He loved it

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