Australia, Destination, Photography

Macquarie Island–A Parade of Penguins

March of the Penguins, Macquarie Island

Macquarie Island, in the Sub-Antarctic, was the main destination of this Orion Expedition Cruise.  Macquarie Island, or Macca, as the Expedition Team liked to call it, was amazing.  We were fortunate enough to spend a full day touring Macquarie Island.  The morning was spent touring around the research station and its environs, meeting the locals–predominantly gentoo penguins and elephant seals.  After a quick lunch (on the ship) we had another wet landing, this time on Sandy Bay, where we were free to ‘mingle’ as we wished among the penguins, elephant seals, and assorted sea birds.  What an opportunity!  It was overcast at first, but by mid-morning the sun was starting to peek through and lighting up Macquarie Island.

Penguins on Macquarie Island

Hey, you guys–straighten up that line!

sunshine on Macquarie Island

After lunch the clouds roll back and the sun is shining

The afternoon was glorious.  I understand such weather only occurs about once every 487 years on Macca.  Okay, I exaggerate.  But there are only a few sunny days a year, and most of the Expedition Team had never experienced it there.  One team member had been there eighteen times without seeing such good weather.  Nevertheless, I was grateful for the thermals, waterproof pants, multi-layers of everything.  Not that it was terribly cold once on land, but the ride on the Zodiacs to get to the island was decidedly chilly.  Yessiree.  And wet.  Cold, it turns out, is a relative thing.  I suppose I knew that, but it came into sharp relief in an environment that is always cold, and almost always windy and wet.  Our ‘warm’ day was 8 or 9C (in the mid to upper 40s F), so nothing to complain about.  And believe me, no one was complaining.  We were just thrilled for the chance to visit such an amazing place; having the weather gods on our side was a bonus.

There was way too much to try to describe, so I’ve decided to let some  pictures tell the tale.  Starting briefly with our arrival on the island, then the penguins.  The elephant seals were hilarious, but they’ll feature in another post.  Soon.

Zodiac leaves the Orion and heads for shore

A  zodiac leaves the Orion and heads for a wet landing

wet landing on Macquarie Island

Walking on slimy kelp and wet rocks is harder than you might think

Our first landing was near the research station, where we were met by members of our Expedition Team, all kitted out in hip waders and woolly hats, ready to get us to dry land (wet rocks, actually).  The big swells made getting out of the Zodiacs very tricky.  It’s all in the timing, they said.  As if.

Welcome by King Penguins on Macquarie Island

The Welcoming Committee Comes to Check Us Out

We started looking for the expeditioners who landed ahead of us, but didn’t get much help from the locals.

King Penguins on Macquarie Island

Over there! Over there!

King Penguins

No, they went thataway…

Some were just too tired to care about us… like this Royal penguin

Or too busy, like this Gentoo penguin

Gentoo Penguin

Gotta go, gotta go. Things to do, places to be…

This King penguin just didn’t give a ding-dong

King Penguin

You talkin’ to me?

In keeping with their beautiful and peaceful environment, they were generally a remarkably amiable bunch.

Macquarie Island Expedition cruise

Not a bad life, really…

The Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service built a boardwalk up to a vast rookery of royal penguins.  The aim is to give people safe access, and prevent trampling the environment.  The introduced rabbits have already made a mess of it, and a major eradication program has been undertaken,  next they’ll try to recover the vegetation.  No more than 60 visitors are allowed on the island at a time, and only about 600 a year.

The royal penguin rookery was … well, awesome.  Far too vast to capture in one photo.

Royal Penguin rookery

Royal Penguin Rookery above Sandy Bay

The chicks were adorable in their woolly coats.  What a sight!  And noise.

Royal penguin chick

Mommy! Where are you?








Where’s my mommy?






Royal penguin chick

You could quite easily lose someone in that mob

And you can lose yourself, as I did just looking at them.  Everywhere we went there were penguins.  Gentoos, Royals, Kings…and of course elephant seals.  You have no idea how hard it is to take a photo of penguins without getting a pile of elephant seals in the shot!  But they will get their turn next time.  Stay tuned!

Gentoo penguin and elephant seals on Macquarie Island

Hey! This doesn’t look like the Gentoo Club

Macquarie Island was one of the best stops during our Antarctica journey.

Featured writer: Suellen Carey-Clarke 


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6 thoughts on “Macquarie Island–A Parade of Penguins

  1. adinparadise says:

    What a wonderful experience. Thanks for sharing your photos. 🙂

    1. Suellen says:

      My pleasure. Literally!

  2. Julia says:

    Wonderful!!!! I love the penguins as much as you do :-)))) thanks for sharing. Love antarctica

    1. Suellen says:

      Thank you for the comment–It was wonderful to wander amongst them. They are soooooo delightful, and funny actually. 🙂

  3. Sas says:

    Brilliant photos! I can’t wait to show my friend, she’s crazy about penguins 🙂

    1. Suellen says:

      My son and grandsons are as well. Who isn’t, come to think of it?

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