Experience the largest Antarctic fur seal colony in the world
Information about Elsehul Bay
Elsehul Bay at the northwest extremity of South Georgia Island is known for two things - its remarkable numbers of seals, and its remarkable number of names!
At various times, and on various maps, it has been known as Elsehul, Else Cove, Elsie Bay, Elsa Bay, Else’s Hole, and (somewhat bucking the trend) Paddock’s Cove! It’s a small bay on the northern coast of South Georgia and is only half a mile wide.
Despite its small size, it is home to an abundance of wildlife including a large colony of Antarctic fur seals. As you arrive in the bay your ears will be ringing with the barks and cries of huge numbers of juvenile and adult seals.
Adding to the barrage are the cries from the seabirds that call Elsehul home, especially the King Penguins. Others that breed include Gentoo Penguins and Macaroni Penguins, Black-browed albatross, grey-headed and sooty albatrosses, and quite a few other seabirds, such as the South Georgia Shag and White-chinned Petrel. And since they eradicated the rat on South Georgia, it is a good spot for South Georgia Pintail and South Georgia Pipit.
The shore here is a patchwork of tussac grass and mud - so many seals moving around makes for some tricky conditions! Depending on the time of year you visit, the aggressive males may still be in the bay, or, if the mating season is ended, they may have left, leaving the pups and females in peace.
Interesting facts about Elsehul Bay
Elsehul Bay is often the first landing in South Georgia for those arriving from the Falklands, ad it can be ne an unforgettable experience.
The fact there are so many fur seals here today amongst the King Penguins is remarkable, given that within 40 years of the first sealers arriving in the 1780s the entire population was all but wiped out. Seal fur was a valuable commodity, used to make felt which was in turn made into a huge range of clothing (including hats and coats) for which there was enormous demand. Despite this setback, once the sealers left the Antarctic fur seals came back in huge numbers, testimony to the ideal conditions this sheltered bay provides for raising their pups.