Penguins on Franklin Island
Today was devoted to penguins as we visited an Adelie colony on Franklin Island. This was really our first opportunity to see them up close. This part of the Antarctic doesn’t seem to have as much wildlife as the Peninsula does.
Franklin Island is about 7 miles long and lies in the Ross Sea about 80 miles east of Cape Hickey, Victoria Land. It was discovered by Sir John Franklin, the noted Arctic explorer who perished while trying to find the Northwest Passage. He was also the Governor of Tasmania and had entertained the Ross Expedition party on its way south in 1840.
We had a wet landing and climbed up a rocky shore to the colony. This is the time of year that the chicks are feeding furiously and trying to shed their grey layer of fuzzy fur before heading for sea in a few weeks. It was a scene of much activity. The adult penguins hopped from the sea, fat and shiny and full of krill to pass on to the babies, while most of the youngsters were huddled in groups called creches, some looking more miserable than others in various stages of the molt. It was fun to watch so many of them clambering after their parents for more food.