We land our zodiacs near the settlement on Bleaker Island
10,000 pairs of King Cormorants nest within 3 quarters of a mile from the settlement
There’s a baleen whale skeleton above the beach
Our afternoon is spent with handsome Magellanic Penguins at Sandy Bay
Le Boreal - January 06, 2012
Bleaker Island, Falkland Islands
Temperature: 45° F
Wind speed: 25 knots
Cloud cover: 70%
A brisk wind greeted us when we stepped out on deck this morning. Captain Patrick Marchesseau had found some shelter from the ocean swell on the west side of Bleaker Island, but the wind continued to howl. Expedition Leader Larry Hobbs and Assistant Expedition Leader Marco Favero took a zodiac ashore to scout the landing, and found a protected spot where we could land and get ashore on Bleaker Island.
From the landing, we hiked past scattered Magellanic penguins peaking out of the tussac grass to a very large blue-eyed shag colony in the middle of a grassy meadow. Several thousand pairs of cormorants were perched upon their columnar nests, busily regurgitating food for their hungry chicks, which were at this point of the season already nearly the same size as the adults. An array of predators ranging from skuas to dolphin gulls flew over the colony or perched on its outskirts, awaiting any opportunity to secure their next meal.
Further along, the trail dropped down to the other side of the island, where a rocky platform hosted several sub-groups of nesting rockhopper penguins. The penguin chicks were balls of fuzz, with brown downy feathers on their heads and backs, and white downy feathers lining their fronts. Groups of young shags gathered on the rock ledges as well, while gleaming white snowy sheathbills wove in and out looking through the guano on the rock for partially digested morsels of goodness to eat.
We walked back across the island to the landing, from where we enjoyed an exhilarating ride amidst wind and waves back to the ship. While we shared stories over lunch, Captain Patrick Marchesseau repositioned Le Boreal to the east side of Bleaker Island, where we were explore during the afternoon.
Soon we were back on the zodiacs heading directly towards a brilliant sand beach, where the water just offshore glowed turquoise when the sun peaked out from behind the clouds. Groups of penguins lounged up above the high tide line, and we walked up past the Magellanic penguin burrows, which seemed to go on forever. Further up the hill we encountered clusters of gentoo penguins with their very large chicks. We observed numerous feeding chases, where an adult ran through the colony with two huge hungry chicks in hot pursuit. Often, these chases resulted in the chicks crashing into one another or into another penguin that happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Soon we were back down on the beach, and boarding zodiacs for the ride back to the ship. At our first Expedition Recap of the voyage, Naturalist and Falkland native Pete Clement answered questions about life growing up in the Falklands, and Geologist Jason Hicks spoke about the recent discovery of an offshore oil deposit just north of the Falklands. Following dinner, we retired for a quiet evening at sea onboard Le Boreal.