Travels To The Edge: South Georgia
00:00:11.96 --> 00:00:17. South Georgia island is bitterly cold, wild, inhospitable, 00:00:18.62 --> 00:00:21. and yet it has one of the largest concentrations of 00:00:21.82 --> 00:00:23. wildlife found anywhere. 00:00:27.4 --> 00:00:32. On is my favorite place on earth. I'm our wolf joined 00:00:32.93 --> 00:00:34. me on travels to the edge 00:01:13.35 --> 00:01:16. southernmost tip of South America is Cape Horn and 00:01:16.67 --> 00:01:19. article eyes. Eight hundred miles to the south, the 00:01:19.56 --> 00:01:22. remote island of south Georgia lies to the east of 00:01:22.36 --> 00:01:26. these two continents, exposed to the full fury of 00:01:26.08 --> 00:01:27. the Southern Ocean. 00:01:29.84 --> 00:01:32. Joining me on this journey is one of the world's foremost 00:01:32.6 --> 00:01:36. authorities and seabirds Peter Harrison and explorer 00:01:36.08 --> 00:01:39. and naturalist Shirley Mentz. This is the wildest 00:01:39.41 --> 00:01:42. island I can think of. They're only a...
few hundred 00:01:42.58 --> 00:01:45. people in the world that have ever circumnavigated 00:01:45.13 --> 00:01:47. this island because it's a it's a fearful place. 00:01:50.8 --> 00:01:54. Take us around this coastline. This is a CZ wild as 00:01:54.01 --> 00:01:57. it gets in, says Georgia. We will feel is that we 00:01:57.84 --> 00:02:01. are in Antarctica. Truth proper. Tell me about this area was here that Shackleton came in after his eight hundred mile journey. To this day, he's still gasping at the open boat journey of eight hundred miles What do you think is in store for us? Two and a half to three days of rolling around in the windiest stormiest ocean on the world. Run into a first class storm with thirty foot seas. Albatrosses are being tossed around. Very, very dramatic. What? I am getting some great. Wave ever a place that primordial It has to be South Georgia, especially in this pre dawn light, the sounds, the smells, the sights off all these penguins and elephant seals. This's the place that I love to come back to year in, year out. It is really early in the morning and the light hasn't quite gotten up to where I can really start to do my work. So I like to walk around with my subjects and figure out a place to photograph. Let's get some photos, We'll have a little lunch. Ah, lot of penguins here because colony in the world of King penguins. A few years ago, we only had say, two hundred thousand Qing Penguin pairs on South Georgia, now over four hundred thousand pairs of penguins. Why do you think they're increasing it? Such amazing rate. Well, I think the earth is warming on the warmer ocean around South Georgia, the whole back of all of these glaciers and so on. It has benefit the King penguins. I'm like a kid in a candy store. There's so much to work with. If a committee of designers got together, I don't think they could have designed a more beautiful bird. Golden yellow stands out so regally against the silver, silver and gold in a beautiful shape on the top of these birds, and it's just so fun to work with the color and the design of him. No, really. What I tried to do after having established a sense of place to these first is find the details. It's those little moments that you capture on film that you bring away that really play nicely with the larger perspective. These are amazing. These elephant seals, they are so enormous, multi ton animals that come ashore to rest and to give birth to little seals. And these air actually bit sized males. Right now, they're just incredible how high they can reach the conf stand up much taller than me, and then they far like this. There's barring, They're interacting. There's little babies all over the place. They make athlete gropes sounds. They're amazing animals. You. You, you. When I go into a new environment, I'd like to shoot an establishing shot with a really wide angle E I I love working with overcast light Right now I've got the best of both worlds. I've got overcast light but blue sky behind Very, very classic calm morning which is really an unusual event on South Georgia right now. Everybody's calm. I'm calm, it's peaceful. This is the only island in the world where you can actually come and sit with wanting all the crosses. Peter, this is a big bird. Tell me about the spring. Well, it's not only big heart, it is the biggest, the biggest flying bird in the world. There's nothing that is bigger. Nails weigh about twenty four to twenty five times in a way. That's a Thanksgiving turkey size, but with wings eleven. Teo even twelve feet from wink twelve feet to basketball players, Cyprus. I guess that's right. I can fit under one wing. They're on. They still have a few inches on me. Very long. Live birds long live longer than ion. I'm sixty years old, that bird on the right foot. Seventy years. Seventy seven zero seven zero way. Not only that, these birds, when they fly, they fly five to six hundred miles in a single day. When the youngster leaves, this nest goes. I don't the ocean for the first time spends the first seven years minimum at sea. By the time it gets back, it will have flown one and a half million miles in its lifetime. These birds are estimated to fly some fifteen million miles. That's around eighteen roundtrip journeys to the moon and back. Nothing flies further than in all the troughs wait. Sadly, they are threats. In the twenty years that I've been coming here, we've had numbers on South Georgia plummet from four thousand birds. Now down to less than one thousand eight hundred birds. We've lost half and about twenty five years wait. First heels present a formidable challenge for photography here on the island because they're so aggressive. Theo Southern first sales were nearly hunted to extinction in the early nineteen hundred. In fact, they thought they were extinct, and since the early nineteen hundreds, they've gone from maybe thirty animals to two million. It's such a short time, one of the most extraordinary comeback of any animal species. And right now these animals have come back with a vengeance. They're extraordinarily aggressive, very territorial. They bite. They will charge you from one hundred feet away. I've had tripod legs sheared off. And a force to be reckoned with. 00:12:19.22 --> 00:12:21. Surely it's amazing how this south coast of South 00:12:21.77 --> 00:12:24. George is so much more glaciation and rugged looking. 00:12:24.89 --> 00:12:28. Oh, very much so. And this is where Shackleton ended 00:12:28.39 --> 00:12:31. up coming. After his eight hundred mile journey, he 00:12:31.24 --> 00:12:34. arrived here in King Cack and Day. He spends about 00:12:34.26 --> 00:12:38. four five days here, gets resupplied nails, thie nails 00:12:38.65 --> 00:12:41. to the bottom of the soles of his feet and then makes 00:12:41.1 --> 00:12:44. the journey up over the spine of South Georgia to 00:12:44.59 --> 00:12:45. the other side. 00:12:48.74 --> 00:12:51. Thirty six hours across the glaciers over mountains 00:12:51.85 --> 00:12:54. that were never ever traveled before. Not mapped, 00:12:54.23 --> 00:12:56. not explored. Uh, no food up in the mountains. So 00:12:56.97 --> 00:13:01. they had to take all of that with incredible story. 00:13:01.68 --> 00:13:04. Yes. I don't think very much replicated it all still 00:13:04.96 --> 00:13:06. today. And that's when men were men. 00:13:10.62 --> 00:13:14. An incredible journey and amazing rescue, given the 00:13:14.54 --> 00:13:17. fact and nobody died on his entire trip. That was 00:13:17.76 --> 00:13:21. always something that Shackleton claimed that no man 00:13:21.51 --> 00:13:24. was ever lost under my command. 00:13:41.31 --> 00:13:41. Yeah, 00:13:43.07 --> 00:13:43. here. 00:13:45.94 --> 00:13:46. Yeah, 00:13:48.09 --> 00:13:48. computer. 00:13:53.14 --> 00:13:56. This is a freshwater lake left over from a receding 00:13:56.66 --> 00:14:01. glacier. And in this lake are hundreds of young wieners, 00:14:01.62 --> 00:14:04. elephant seals that were born probably a month or 00:14:04.09 --> 00:14:08. so ago, and they've been fed on very, very rich milk 00:14:08.21 --> 00:14:10. from their mother's. And now the mothers have gone 00:14:10.2 --> 00:14:13. out to sea to replenish their nutrients. But for right 00:14:13.78 --> 00:14:17. now, these pumps are jousting and playing and just 00:14:17.23 --> 00:14:19. hanging out in this very benign water. Great shot from about three feet away. Wide angle have approached him from very low various animals. You want to get unusual shots, you get into unusual positions. And by staying low, letting them look into my lens, he'll come right up. I get these distorted light angles, which can often be fantastic. And I love these kind of perspectives because if you just stand up from five feet up looking thirty feet away, it looks like you're looking at these animals. And now I want to kind of interpret their landscape, interpret their environment, and you do that by getting into their environment on their level. These guys are known as Wiener simply because they've been weaned from their mother's. And when they see somebody like kneeling on the beach, they may in fact think I'm mother. So they come in close. And I just love this interaction with these wild animals, and I'm careful not to touch them again. Come on, you want You want, Uh, there we go. Now He's so curious. My hands don't touch my lands. You blow snot on, definitely said, don't do that. Excuse me. Lookit. That's you. You trust me? Do you think I look like your mother? That's a baby. Your diamonds. More feeling? Oh, yeah. Yeah. Cool you. 00:16:33.73 --> 00:16:33. Yeah, 00:16:35.91 --> 00:16:40. it's miserable out blowing rain. It's cold. And yet 00:16:40.68 --> 00:16:43. some of the best shots I've ever shot are in these 00:16:43.32 --> 00:16:44. very conditions. 00:16:46.18 --> 00:16:49. Right now. I have a small group of macaroni penguins 00:16:49.4 --> 00:16:52. that have just emerged from the sea, and I'm bundled 00:16:52.33 --> 00:16:55. up one of the few times not using a tripod because 00:16:55.11 --> 00:16:58. I'm just maneuvering the camera every couple of seconds. 00:17:00.28 --> 00:17:05. Wave comes up and totally soaks me. It'll be well 00:17:05.08 --> 00:17:09. worth it because these air beautiful shots really, 00:17:09.21 --> 00:17:13. really nice, even a reflection in a little pond. There's 00:17:13.16 --> 00:17:16. a first deal right behind them, so they've hopped 00:17:16.02 --> 00:17:19. right into me and they're coming right up, be ended 00:17:19.43 --> 00:17:23. by This is up close and personal because his first 00:17:23.17 --> 00:17:24. seal has scared them. 00:17:26.37 --> 00:17:29. So they're not so concerned about me as much as the 00:17:29.83 --> 00:17:40. first wave. 00:18:01.48 --> 00:18:05. This is a very windy day here, and I cannot find any 00:18:05.21 --> 00:18:08. penguins or seals on this really remote beach. But 00:18:08.42 --> 00:18:11. what I can find are some beautiful landscapes, but 00:18:11.95 --> 00:18:13. on a very intimate level. 00:18:16.18 --> 00:18:19. What I'm framing up here is just a close study of 00:18:20.09 --> 00:18:23. thes beautiful lichens that thrive here in these very 00:18:23.18 --> 00:18:26. cold conditions on South Georgia Island, there among 00:18:26.0 --> 00:18:29. the oldest slowest growing plants on Earth. 00:18:31.6 --> 00:18:37. E. I love this. I mean, it's great for the mind. And 00:18:37.84 --> 00:18:39. when you're photographing allowed life, you're so 00:18:39.68 --> 00:18:42. caught up in following action. But here your mind 00:18:42.82 --> 00:18:45. can relax. You can really get into the moment. 00:19:00.3 --> 00:19:02. Well, you certainly know a lot of history about this 00:19:02.54 --> 00:19:05. place while I come maybe two or three times a year 00:19:05.82 --> 00:19:08. on every time way always come to Griffin and side 00:19:08.97 --> 00:19:11. of the largest of our waving stations on DH. There 00:19:11.55 --> 00:19:13. is there is a lot of history here. 00:19:15.5 --> 00:19:18. Republican was the first of the whaling stations here. 00:19:18.78 --> 00:19:22. It's south Georgia on it was started off in nineteen. 00:19:22.05 --> 00:19:25. Or for what you have to imagine, our is that Cumberland 00:19:25.88 --> 00:19:29. Bay at that time was full of Wales. And I mean full. 00:19:29.7 --> 00:19:32. Not like a whale here. They're talking of hundreds 00:19:32.33 --> 00:19:35. and hundreds of Wales. They never left the base. They 00:19:35.28 --> 00:19:38. caught hundreds and hundreds of Wales. All they had 00:19:38.95 --> 00:19:41. to do was to row out, put the harpoon in the whale 00:19:41.74 --> 00:19:43. on, bring the scrap. That's what a dead weight is 00:19:43.89 --> 00:19:49. called. Back into the harbour. The fifties, the whales 00:19:49.94 --> 00:19:52. were getting harder and harder to catch these same 00:19:52.33 --> 00:19:55. boats that court whales just in this bay. Now they 00:19:55.24 --> 00:19:57. were going over two hundred miles from this island 00:19:57.71 --> 00:20:00. to find whales. Actually ended around nineteen sixty 00:20:00.93 --> 00:20:03. five nineteen, sixty six. So about fifty five years, 00:20:03.52 --> 00:20:06. fifty five years combined, whaling stations of south 00:20:06.85 --> 00:20:10. Georgia took one hundred seventy five thousand two 00:20:10.26 --> 00:20:13. hundred and fifty whales. They range from the biggest, 00:20:13.08 --> 00:20:15. the blue to the rarest done in these waters, which 00:20:15.66 --> 00:20:18. was the southern right whale. Nothing escaped the 00:20:18.07 --> 00:20:22. harpoons here. This's also the final resting place 00:20:22.28 --> 00:20:25. for a famous person. Shackleton finally came to rest 00:20:25.99 --> 00:20:29. here. He died in the bay here, his men erected across 00:20:29.88 --> 00:20:33. on the hill. He told his wife. My heart is always 00:20:34.27 --> 00:20:37. in the south, and if you go to the graveyard, you'll 00:20:37.41 --> 00:20:40. see that every single grave is buried with the head 00:20:40.92 --> 00:20:44. facing north to Europe. Sir Ernest Shackleton, the 00:20:44.24 --> 00:20:47. boss is the only person with his head and his heart 00:20:47.76 --> 00:20:51. facing size to the continent. He loved corn Antarctica. 00:20:52.12 --> 00:20:54. What a fitting place for him to be. 00:21:11.85 --> 00:21:20. Wait. 00:21:23.92 --> 00:21:27. I was walking down the beach and I just happened to 00:21:27.59 --> 00:21:30. see this great opportunity. There's a family first 00:21:30.76 --> 00:21:34. deal, several females and a don't bowl really nice 00:21:34.37 --> 00:21:37. moment with otherwise very aggressive seals. 00:21:41.73 --> 00:21:44. There's three pups to are the typical black and one 00:21:44.8 --> 00:21:47. is this beautiful cream color. One in two thousand 00:21:48.0 --> 00:21:49. occur with this color face 00:21:50.71 --> 00:21:51. right in front of us. 00:21:54.52 --> 00:21:58. What's nice about this is the seal pups. Eyes are 00:21:58.86 --> 00:22:02. so black. It's a great contrast shots that I'm looking 00:22:02.26 --> 00:22:05. for when the baby in the mother's head's come together 00:22:05.18 --> 00:22:08. and there's a moment of nurturing and it just really 00:22:08.69 --> 00:22:10. plays well with the camera. Despite its isolation and extreme climate, South Georgia Island remains a remarkable oasis of wildlife. There's simply no other place like it in the world. I'm r will join me next time on travels. Tio, I'd love to have some final words from you or just Yeah, for me. That's the first time I've seen some of these up episodes and several years, and it brings back great memories. Any rate that was fun to spend the day with you folks. Any final thoughts about the day, anything thoughts or you just put to sleep and you want to go home? Any rate that film crew that I worked with, the editors, the photographers, they were gold. It was a great team to work with. I look forward to working with him in the future and just to take people to these remote and special places. You know, not everybody has the energy, the finances, the health to go there. And that whole Siri's was to show the world to people that may not have that opportunity. From Antarctica to South Georgia, Bhutan. I wanted to show the world and the humans that populate this globe as being very similar to you, you know, it was it was inspired after September eleven, that evil event. I want to show people that there is a great world out there. I've seen it. I have been travelling there for thirty years, and so we did this episode this Siri's to show you 00:24:22.753 --> 00:24:26. people from Mongolia to Africa, 00:24:27.42 --> 00:24:31. South Georgia, the few people that live on South Georgia. 00:24:31.11 --> 00:24:33. So we have a great time doing this show.