Day two of my sailing on board the Pharos Ship from The Falklands to my new home. The Pharos is the South Georgian Fisheries Patrol Vessel in charge of enforcing the very strict fishing regulations in these waters. It was originally built for and used in the relatively sheltered inland lochs of the western isles. As a result of this design, the vessel has a very unique motion in swell which the ruthless Southern Atlantic is incredibly good at amplifying. This unique motion has a knack like very few others (so I am told) for causing sea sickness so the calm seas to this point were much appreciated!
I was assured by the ship’s crew and frequenters of the route that this would be the quiet segment of the cruise. We were too far from both The Falklands and South Georgia for many birds and lacking in any interesting seabed features to attract many Marine mammals.
Although the number of birds did decrease slightly, the vessel continued to be followed by a steady stream of pelagic bird species. This included several more Wandering Albatross, which seemed to be enjoying the slightly stronger wind conditions. Both Atlantic Petrel and Grey Headed Albatross were gratefully added to the trip list during this passage. We also saw a few whale blows but unfortunately were unable to distinguish the species, although one slightly closer sighting was probably a humpback.
Throughout days two and three, we were followed by a stunning white morph Southern Giant Petrel. The bird was subject to a lot of attention from my camera, but rarely ventured within range of a decent photograph. I did manage to get a couple of snaps though.
Day 3 brought much of the same, numbers of Sooty Shearwaters and White Chinned Petrel increased with day two’s chop subsiding once again. My persistence on deck was rewarded with my 4th species of Albatross, this time Lightly Mantled Sooty Albatross, absolutely stunning birds. This species is presently struggling around South Georgia with many monitored pairs showing regular breeding failure.
The day didn’t bring much in terms of Cetacean sightings. However I was amazed to see my first King Penguins 302km away from South Georgia. Think of the amount of fish these guys must have to eat in order to make a trip that big worthwhile! They will shortly be following me back to South Georgia to moult and then breed.