Returns to Carson's Travels Home Page Places Visited View Our Photo Gallery Map of Trip How to Contact Us

Barrientos Island Landing On Sunday, January 25, after lunch, we arrived at our first landing spot. Barrientos Island is in the Aitcho Island Group in the South Shetland Archipelago, which is just northwest of the Antarctic Peninsula. Also called the H.O. Islands after the Admiralty Hydrographic Office , Barrientos Island is too small to have a permanent ice cap, so it was a great place to observe penguin colonies along the shoreline.The island is home to about 22,000 penguins,both chinstrap and gentoo colonies with their very young chicks, as well as elephant seals and old whalebones.Chinstrap Penguin


Chinstrap Breeding NestChinstrap penguins can be easily recognized by the black line under their chins. They build their nests up on mounds with stones that they pick up one by one. But due to guano and snow melt, their nests can become muddy messes. Since parents coming back from feeding in the ocean find their own chick by their voice, there is alot of noise with both parents and chicks crying out for recognition. The smell and sounds cannot be seen in photographs so you will have to use your imagination!

Gentoo PenguinGentoo Penguins can be recognized by their white "top hat" and bright orange beak. They are more inquisitive than the chinstraps and seemed to have no fear of people. Gentoo chicksTheir chicks were so cute with their downy fur coats which were just beginning to molt. It was fascinating to watch as a parent would come back from feeding in the ocean, find their chick and begin to feed them. Often other chicks would run after an adult who was not their own parent in the hopes of getting some food but it didn't work.

Gentoo Feeding







Elephant SealAlthough the penguins were the main attraction, the elephant seals were a close second. Only the females were left on the island, with the males having gone back out to sea after doing their work in impregnating their harems.

Elephant Seal


SkuaWe saw many species of birds on our trip. But the one that no one likes is the Skua. This bird preys on baby penguins and is often found near the penguin colonies hoping to snatch up a chick. We watched as they tried and were chased back by the parents. Still the Skua chicks were awfully cute, too.

Skua Chick

For more photos of Aitcho Islands, go to Aitcho Photo Gallery. To read about the next location visited, go to Linblad Cove.


Home Locations Visited Photos Map Contact Us