An Expedition to South Georgia and the Falkland Islands

November 30, 2016 Brenda du Toit

Wilfred Chivell and Susan Visagie recently travelled to the spectacular isles of the South Atlantics for an adventure of a lifetime! At the most recent Marine Dynamics/Dyer Island Conservation Trust Marine Evening, Wilfred shared some of the images and moments of a very special trip. The Great White House was packed and everyone was keen to hear more about South Georgia and the Falkland Islands which form part of a marine protected area near South America and the Antarctic’s.

The trip was undertaken on board Sea Spirit guided by Doug and Dale from Cheesemans Ecology Safaris, experts in their field with over 35 years’ experience.

While Wilfred admits he is not one for visiting graves he was very interested to see that of explorer, Sir Ernest Shackelton.  Shackleton led three expeditions to the Antarctic. It was on his third that his ship, Endurance, was trapped in pack ice and subsequently crushed. The crew used the lifeboats to reach Elephant Island and the inhabited island of South Georgia. This distance of 720 nautical miles was covered during a terrible storm and is almost unbelievable to Wilfred that he made it. Wilfred saw first-hand how strong the wind and sea could be while out on the boat Sea Spirit so his admiration for Shackleton is now even stronger. In 1921, Shackleton returned to the Antarctic  but died of a heart attack while his ship was moored in South Georgia. At his wife's request he was buried there.

Something that struck Wilfred was that the area was pristine with no plastic or pollution in sight, a true place of wilderness. With majestic landscapes and flourishing marine wildlife he finally spotted some Southern right whale dolphins. Wilfred has travelled to many places to view one of the species he loves most, the penguin. In this expedition, including sightings in Chile, he was able to see six penguin species – the Chinstrap, King, Rockhopper, Gentoo, Macaroni and Humpboldt.

Wilfred shared some of his pictures, but with some 12 000 to go through he called upon visiting marine guide Judith Scott, herself having been on such an expedition, to incorporate  some of her photos too. All in all it made for an interesting evening.

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