South Georgia: Grytviken – Shackleton’s Grave
It took three full days to sail from Ushuaia and Beagle Channel to reach the South Georgia islands on a straight line voyage in rather rough seas in the path of a recent cyclone storm. The birdwatching was phenomenal as the largest seabirds in the world – albatrosses – followed the ship and circled it from all sides. Four species of albatrosses hot sighted – Wandering , Southern Royal, Black-browse, and Grey-headed, plus many Southern Giant Petrels and some smaller petrel species. The albatrosses actually nest on nearby Falklands and the South Georgia, in fact 90% of the world’s population of the Black-browed albatross are from here. Albatrosses are the largest flying birds, with wingspans of up to 3.7 m (12 ft) for the Wandering and Royals – aka the great albatrosses. They can leave up to 60-70 years, spending most of the lifetime at sea, often years without touching land! Albatrosses can sleep while flying, and can exert almost no effort and consume no energy with their massive wings gliding and utilizing the thermals. Lifting of the water is the most difficult part, albatrosses have to literally run – it’s a like a giant Airbus trying to take off.