Blue-eyed Shag
Blue-eyed shag

Blue-eyed Shag

Antarctica's only cormorant that toughs out the coldest winters

Our Expert Says… "The name 'blue-eyed shag' covers a range of species, including Antarctic shag, imperial or king shag, and South Georgia Shag. Further confusion is caused by some of these being different names for the same thing! There are even debates about whether or not it's a true shag species!"

The Blue-Eyed Shag is the Antarctic’s sole cormorant species. It’s currently found in the South Shetland Islands, on Elephant Island, and the Antarctic Peninsula.

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Blue-eyed shag

Highlights where the Blue-eyed Shag can be seen

Whalers Bay

Whalers Bay is a small natural harbor on Deception Island, one of the South Shetland Islands. An active volcano, the crater forms a natural sheltered inlet that was historically used by sealers and then whalers from the 1820s. The geography makes it a perfect place for ships to shelter in rough weather, and Whaler’s Bay contains some of the most significant whaling artifacts and remains to be found in the whole of Antarctica. As your ship sails through the narrow “break” in the volcanic caldera known as Neptunes Bellows, the wide, circular beach of Whaler’s Bay is found to the right. The beach runs uninterrupted for one and a quarter miles and was used as a runway in the 1950s and 1960s when the site was the main hub of British Antarctic air movements. The hangar that was built in 1960 can be visited at the northern end of the beach where you can also see a roller that was used to maintain the runway. At the southern end of the beach are large, rusted oil tanks, and behind them are buildings from the period 1906 to 1931. There was a significant whaling industry here, with the sheltered and shallow beach making it an ideal place to land whale carcasses and process them. While you explore all this remarkable human history, please remember that you are standing on an active volcano! The instruments you may see around the beach in the Whalers Bay area are seismic monitors, and the island is monitored for activity 24 hours a day. The last eruption was in 1969, and this was responsible for some of the mudflows and damage to the buildings and metal tanks that you see here. The penguins don’t seem to be worried, though! Chinstraps and Gentoos can always be seen along the beach here, and it’s not unusual to encounter fur seals who have hauled out to rest and watch the humans. There are also plenty of Antarctic seabirds to see, including petrels, skuas, Antarctic terns, and kelp gulls.

Wordie House, Winter Island

Nestled onto the only flat part of Winter Island, Wordie House is a hut built in 1947. It was named by a British Antarctic expedition of the time after James Wordie, who was the chief scientist on Shackleton’s famous 1914 Antarctic exploration. Winter Island is less than 1,000 yards long and is one of the Argentine Islands off the coast of Graham Land. Before it closed in 1954, the hut was used to take meteorological readings using instruments stored inside special screens, one of which still stands today. These readings were among the most important and longest set of weather data ever recorded about the Antarctic and helped scientists gain a greater understanding of the meteorology of the continent. Wordie House was made a “Historic Site and Monument” in 1995 and has been looked after by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust since 2009. There are almost 500 original artifacts still on the site, including original cans of coffee, records, pots and pans, plates, and many more £everyday” items. This makes Wordie House a true time capsule from the golden age of Antarctic exploration and scientific research. The hut is now fully weathertight, and work continues on preserving this unique station. Visits to Winter Island and Wordie House are managed by the nearby Ukrainian station Vernadsky, and you may well be briefed by the Base Commander or other official before you board your boats for the landing. Uniquely for such a historic site, visitors are allowed to roam freely under the supervision of their expert Antarctic guides. They will answer all your questions about the history of the hut, as well as the artifacts that you can find here. Visitors to Winter Island can also expect to see seabirds such as skuas and kelp gulls, as well as seals and penguins.

Our trips to spot the Blue-eyed Shag

Price
Minimum Price

USD 4400

Maximum Price

USD 18000

Duration (days)
Minimum Days

5

Maximum Days

26

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