A Large Pod of Orcas Delights …

Wim’s News from the Tusk Falkland Photo Tour:

After lunch yesterday we returned to the Gentoo colony on the beach. On the way we stopped to set up our cameras for remote work. How this works is we arrive before the penguins come along and we set up along the path that they always follow. Then as they return to that path we are able to photograph them at eye level without getting too close and interrupting them.

Then we continued to the beach where we waited for the Gentoos to return from their day at sea to reach their roosting spots before dusk. We waited expectantly for the first to arrive in that fascinating way that they jump and surf through the waves to reach the shore. Some very large groups of the penguins emerged from the surf together, sometimes as many as forty at a time. The beach is about a hundred meters wide, affording us plenty of time for excellent photographs.

At one stage I wanted to return to the vehicle for a different lens, and when I looked behind me on the wide beach I had an incredible and somewhat heart wrenching surprise … some Giant Petrels had flown in and attacked one of the Gentoos that had returned to the shore. They killed it and started to feed. It was quite amazing to witness nature at its most raw on this serene, beautiful island.

We waited on the beach for sunset and were rewarded with an entire sky that was lit was those breathtaking, shining colours that gradually deepen and darken, and leave one quite speechless.

This morning we went to the shallow pond with the lovely reflections again. It has been such a rewarding and beautiful spot that we simply had to return for the sunrise. This morning was even more spectacular, with a sunrise that is impossible to describe.

Suffice to say that it even surpassed our previous experiences here. The morning was a little windy, so the reflections were not as perfect as the day before, but wow! Those iridescent, glowing colours were dazzling!

There were more penguins at the pond than before this morning and we spent a lot of time photographing them. We watched with delight as a large number of youngsters played in the shallow water and we were able to capture some really superb shots.

We returned to the Elephant Seals where some of the youngsters were play-fighting and rolling around in the surf. As we concentrated on photographing these antics, a pod of Killer Wales, or Orcas, arrived in the bay directly behind the playing seals.

They remained there for the entire morning. They swam in circles, hovered around, went back and forth, and we suspect that they are hunting, hoping to intercept a penguin or two.

We waited and waited, watching the Orcas until we simply had to return for lunch. It was beautiful to watch the beautiful Whales (actually in spite of the name they are not really Whales, but the largest dolphin species) and when they approached to within twenty meters of where we stood on a rock, our excitement rose to extreme heights. We could see them very clearly, and we noticed a massive male among the others. His immense size really made him stick out from the other members of his pod. And we counted nine or ten youngsters as well.

We are enjoying a quick lunch now, and plan to return to the Orcas as soon as we can. We already feel extremely privileged and excited to be able to see these magnificent creatures in this exquisite setting …