a field guide to the planet - by Damon Ramsey
Places to experience Subantarctic shores...
In many ways the subantarctic is underrated compared to the Antarctic. The Subantarctic has a desolate windswept lonely feel, and there is where one can get a much higher diversity of penguins and other sea birds such as albatross and petrels.
Most tourists go on one of the many ships that go to the Malvinas/Falklands and South Georgia on the usual milk run from Ushuaia in Argentina.
The Australian/New Zealand side is not as regularly visited as the South American side, due to the longer distances and inconvenience. However, there are several species, including some endemics, that can not be seen unless you visit this region. Most of the subantarctic islands accessible from the Australasian region politically belong to New Zealand: including the Snares, Auckland and Campbell. There is one island on this mainly underwater ridge that comes out from New Zealand that belongs to Australia, called Macquarie Island...
I have visited this island several times while on an expedition ships travelling at the start and ends of the Antarctic seasons..
South Georgia is, like many of the remote islands of the world, a United Kingdom overseas territory. It also includes the South Sandwich Islands.
Of course penguins are what most people come to see, and they won’t be disappointed. The King Penguins are always an attraction, with their trumpeting call and their amazing colours. They also have unusual looking chicks, which develop into hairy looking young that were at one stage thought to be a different species. Because they have a non-annual breeding cycle, there is always some breeding behaviour going on, no matter when you are at the island.
where are all the trees, flowers, insects, reptiles and song birds? South Georgia doesn’t have any trees, and only small herbaceous plants. It also lacks passerines, except for the South Georgia Pipit. This pipit look different from many others, with striking coloration, and can often be seen down near the seaweed catching tiny intertidal invertebrates.
South Georgia is very remote, and can only be visited by expedition ships. Many companies do trips during the southern summer that include South Georgia along with Antarctica. Some companies will combine South Georgia with some other Atlantic island stops such as the Falklands and Tristan on the way to South Africa.
Thinking of travelling again after everything settles down? The first expedition I am booked to work on after the virus is New Guinea & Indonesia in 2021 with Silversea.