South Georgia

Ben Collen

South Georgia is famed for its severe weather, strong winds, rain, sleet and snow; 4 seasons in one day is the norm, rather than the exception.  The weather gods were no doubt smiling on us though, as we experienced some incredibly calm weather that enabled us to visit 5 sites over the past 4 days, allowing us to get feather samples from 4 colonies of King penguins, and 3 colonies of Gentoo penguins. Most exciting of all though, was that we placed 2 time lapse cameras overlooking penguin colonies – our first on South Georgia, and the start of our long term monitoring programme for penguins. Craggy, dark mountain peaks frame the skyline, with hanging glaciers calving ice over dark sandy beaches.  The wildlife is on a vast scale.  St Andrew’s Bay, one of our sampling sites, is home to an estimated 200,000 breeding pairs of King penguin.  That is penguins as far as the eye can see, and a smell which cannot be described.
King penguins
Interspersed among them, young fur seals, sparring with each other, practicing the skills it will take to become a beach master; elephant seals, lying in big piles moulting this seasons skin; patrolling skewers, looking to pick off the weak, looking for an easy meal. The species list so far includes: King penguins, Gentoo penguins, :Macaroni penguins, cape petrels, giant petrels, South Georgia pintail, South Georgia pipit, Wandering Albatross, black browed Albatross, grey headed Albatross, fur seals, Weddell seal, and elephant seals.
Fur seals
As we leave South Georgia, the weather is starting to turn.  Winds have picked up to 45 knots, the waves are crashing around the ship, up to 7m in height, and we spot our first iceberg.

Select a blog

Artefact of the month

Every month one of the pieces held in ZSL’s Library and at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will feature here as Artefact of the month.

Asia Conservation Programme

Get the latest on ZSL's conservation work in Asia.

B.U.G.S Blog

Find out more about life in our B.U.G.S exhibit

Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation

A new Open Access journal for research at the interface of remote sensing, ecology and conservation.

ZSL Shop

See the latest ranges, updates and special offers from our exciting new online shop.

Wild About Magazine

Excerpts from ZSL's award winning members' magazine.

ZSL London Zoo

A blog for lovers of ZSL London Zoo. Bringing you amazing animal facts and exclusive access to the world's scientific oldest zoo.

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Discover more about the UK's biggest zoo with our fun blog posts!

Discovery and Learning in the Field

Join the ZSL Discovery and Learning team as they venture out of the zoo and in to the wild.


Catch up on our latest Conservation Blogs


ZSL Whipsnade Zoo's elephant keepers give an insight into the daily goings on in the elephant barn.

Tiger conservation

Read about conservation of tigers in Asia.

Videographer Blog

One man is boldly going where no other ZSL videographer has gone before - the land of Mountain Chicken Frogs.

Wild Science

From the field, to the lab, catch up with the scientists on the cutting edge of conservation biology at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology.

Wildlife Wood Project Cameroon

The Wildlife Wood Project has been working in Cameroon since 2007 to encourage better wildlife management in logging concessions.

Penguin expedition blog

Updates from penguin conservation expeditions to Antarctica

Amur Leopard

Amur leopard conservation blog

Baby Giraffe Diaries

Meet ZSL Whipsnade Zoo's latest (and leggiest) arrival, a baby giraffe!

Biodiversity and Palm Oil

Follow the ZSL Biodiversity and Palm Oil team, based in Bogor, Indonesia.

Chagos Expedition

The Chagos marine reserve, designated in 2010 and currently the world’s largest no take marine reserve, is a sought-after spot for marine research.


Science blogs

Tsaobis Baboon Blog

Follow ZSL conservationists studying desert baboons in Namibia.