Our final full day in Antarctica turned out to be a good one. We spent the day enjoying the wildlife at Elephant Point.
Elephant Point is on the southwest corner of Livingstone Island, in the South Shetland Islands. The area was first visited by early 19th century sealers, and today is a popular stopping point for cruise ships. The area is named for the elephant seal colony that resides here (not the pachyderm). There are a lot of elephant seals around, as you can see from the following photos (which do not convey the grunts and smell of the colony).
Our Zodiacs zipped us from our ship, the Viking Octantis, to the shore at Elephant Point for a wet landing. We were able to explore the beach area at our leisure. My wife and I probably spent about a total of two hours walking around, stopping to enjoy the wildlife and taking photos.
Elephant seals are large animals, some of the males being quite massive. Most were sleeping on the beach, but many of the younger males engaging in "play" fights, such as you can see in the video below.
Admixed with the seals were hundreds of Gentoo penguins. These wandered rather fearlessly between the seals and red-jacketed tourists.
The highlight of our visit to Elephant Point was seeing the Gentoo penguin rookery. There were dozens of mounds of penguin nests, some shown in the photos below. Each was populated by lots of nesting penguins. Some seemed to be incubating their eggs, but many of the penguins were caring for their chicks, which were adorable!
The chicks were closely watched by their mothers and snuggled next to them for body warmth. Below are some photos of the youngsters.
That evening we shared a wonderful dinner with friends, including some we had met on the cruise. The Octantis began its long journey back to Argentina and as we looked out over the vast sea, we saw pods of breaching whales. It seemed a fitting ending to an excellent adventure.
Antarctica is not for everyone, but my wife and I both agreed it was one of the finest trips we'd ever been on. This cold remote place is like no other and is definitely worth seeing if at all possible.
For a list of all the posts in DrFumblefinger's Antarctica series, please click on this link: