ePostcard #48: Zodiac Landings! (South Georgia)

 The first surf landing in a Zodiac at South Georgia is always exciting, the beaches dotted with Antarctic fur seals and bull elephant seals defending their respective strongholds and harems, the noise of their bellicose quarrels matched only by the cacophonous squabbles of hundreds of king penguins. Can you spot the people barely visible in the Zodiac just aft of our expedition ship, M/S Ushuaia, in 2009? I’m watching their progress from the beach and wondering what people are thinking as the Zodiac driver reads the swells and navigates a safe path through the wave troughs and rocks, skillfully “surfing” the wave that will deliver the Zodiac’s passengers safely to the beach.

Two crew members in chest-high waders will be waiting in the shallows to secure the Zodiac. Then, with “coached” grace and speed, the passengers disembark (in their knee-high rubber boots), mindful of the sweet spot before the next incoming wave. On our trip in 2018 we had the wonderful option of sea kayaks for those who desired a seal’s eye view and that was no less challenging! Once ashore, you quickly realize that the Zodiac was only the first challenge and that you must now navigate a gauntlet of feisty fur seals and you are reminded repeatedly of the importance of situational awareness as a personal safety priority. The sheer luxury of simply spending hours watching marine birds and mammals going about their lives seemingly unfazed by our presence in their midst is a once in a lifetime experience.

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