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On a world map, South Georgia Island is a speck in the frigid South Atlantic between Africa and South America.

ZOOM IN, and that speck becomes an island of rugged mountains, glaciers, and fjords. Despite its isolation, South Georgia is far from pristine. The island was a hub of whaling in the Southern Ocean until the middle of the last century. The unsustainable harvest of whales and Elephant and Fur Seals left the island’s wildlife devastated. However, decades have passed since the whalers left South Georgia and the wildlife has returned, in abundance.

On a few occasions over the past 10 years, I’ve had the opportunity to visit South Georgia as a naturalist and guide on small, expedition cruise ships. My formal training is in wildlife biology — birds, specifically — and I’ve got a particular admiration for the hardy creatures of the Southern Ocean. When the howling katabatic winds whip down from the glaciers at the head of each valley, sending us scurrying back to the ship in our zodiacs, the wildlife is, without exception, unmoved.

The images below show just a glimpse of South Georgia Island. Photographs can’t convey the sound (or smell) of 100,000 King Penguins, the curiosity of Fur Seal pups, or the adrenaline rush you feel as their territorial parent rushes out of the grass, feet away. For all of that, you’ll have to visit the place for yourself.

About The Author

David Shaw

David Shaw is a professional writer, photographer, Arctic Wild wilderness guide, and wildlife biologist from Fairbanks, Alaska. He thinks the world’s wild places and creatures are too awesome not to protect. Visit his website at www.wildimagephoto.com.

  • Denise Landau

    Great photos and commentary, well done! If any of your readers would like to help preserve the wildlife of South Georgia, please consider donating a hectare or more to http://www.fosgi.org or http://www.sght.org)…SG is one of the most amazing places on earth and desrves the ultimate protection. We’re in the midst of running one of the most ambitous habitat restoraition projects in the world. It’s all very exctiing and it can succeed with support. Thank you!

    • Wild Imagination Photography

      Indeed it is one of the world’s amazing places, and I’m glad you liked the photos. I’m hoping to get back there again next winter for a trip or two, but would love to spend a whole season there.

    • Sandra Landau

      i need to go back -desperately

    • Sandra Landau

      i need to go back -desperately

  • Hal Amen

    that shot of the penguin colony congregation blows my mind…

  • Hal Amen

    that shot of the penguin colony congregation blows my mind…

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