Life and Death on South Georgia… Warning: Bloody, Gruesome & Gory « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Life and Death on South Georgia... Warning: Bloody, Gruesome & Gory

What’s Up?

I had a long to-do list for Sunday but wound up watching too much NFL football. The NY Football Giants one-hand catch phenom Odell Beckham Jr. dropped a sure, wide open touchdown pass on the game’s third play. Using both hands…. A bit later on in the game one of their usually sure-handed defensive backs dropped a sure pick six (interception returned for a touchdown) only 30 yards from the goal line. I should have explained that the Giants were playing with their whole season on the line: lose and miss the playoffs. And I should have mentioned that they were playing the undefeated Carolina Panthers with their superman quarterback Cam Newton. Ah, what could have been.

By the end of the third quarter the Giants were down by 28 points, 35-7. Game over Season over for the Giants. Right? Not so fast. With a bit more than a minute left in the game the Giants capped off an amazing comeback on the second touchdown pass caught by the aforementioned Odell Beckham Jr. And tied the score!

Only to lose in regulation on a Panther field goal with no time left on the clock. It was yet another fitting and well deserved loss in a Giants’ season marred by countless squandered opportunities. Not to mention countless games squandered away.

So what’s the good news? I am feeling pretty darned good for the first time since October 20. Two months is a long time for a cold and congestion. I hope that it is gone for good!

South Georgia OCT/NOV 2016

If you have been thinking of joining me as part of the BIRDS AS ART group on the last-ever South Georgia expedition, please note that cabin choices are becoming quite limited. If you are seriously interested, please do not tarry. Scroll down for details.

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This image was created at St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia on the OCT/NOV Cheesemans’ Expedition with the Induro GIT 304L tripod/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (at 560mm), and the rugged Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/200 sec. at f/11. AWB. Should have been evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops as I needed to open this up during the RAW conversion in DPP 4.

Center AF point (by necessity)/AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus AF on the center of the breast as framed was active at the moment of exposure. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial.

King Penguin with large wound on breast

Warning: Gruesome & Gory

I saw more than a few bloody animals and birds on my last South Georgia expedition. The big male Elephant Seals led the league in gory wounds, wounds that were received in territorial/breeding dominance battles with other large males. King Penguins were not far behind but this wound in today’s featured image was the most gruesome by far. “It is possibly a prop injury but those would likely be on the penguin’s back” said Expedition Leader Ted Cheeseman when I shared this image with him. But he was not big on the wound having been caused by either a Leopard Seal or an Orca. Who knows? If you have a theory you are invited to share it with us here by leaving a comment.

This image is in stark contrast to the typically beautiful images made of this most handsome and colorful subject. I have spent hours and hours creating tight abstracts of the patterns on the necks of King Penguins. Life goes on. And in this case, sure death.


All images on the card were created on the 2015 Cheesemans’ South Georgia Expedition. From top left clockwise to center: King Penguin resting on Snow, Fortuna Bay; Macaroni Penguin in snow, Cooper Island; Grey-headed Albatross, Elsehul; King Penguin neck abstract, Godthul; Northern Giant Petrel, Undine Harbor; adult Wandering Albatross, Prion Island; Elephant Seal, Undine Harbor; South Georgia Pipit fledgling/thanks Joe Kaplan! Fortuna Bay; high key King Penguins in snow, Fortuna Bay.

Card design and all images copyright 2015: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

The Cheesemans’ 2016 OCT/NOV South Georgia/Falklands Expedition

If reading last Saturday’s blog post here put a thought in your mind about joining the BIRDS AS ART group on the Cheesemans’ 2016 OCT/NOV South Georgia/Falklands Expedition, please shoot me an e-mail with the words “Cheesemans’ Last South Georgia Expedition” cut and pasted into the Subject Line with any questions or if you wish to receive additional inspiration. This will surely be my last ship-based trip to the Southern Ocean as well.


All of the images on this card were created in the Falklands on the 2014 Cheesemans’ Southern Oceans Expedition. From top left clockwise to center: Black-browed Albatross tending chick, Steeple Jason Island; Black-browed Albatross courting pair, New Island; the Black-browed Albatross colony at Steeple Jason Island; Black-browed Albatross landing, New Island; King Cormorant head portrait, New Island; hull detail/derelict minesweeper, New Island; Rockhopper Penguin head portrait in bright sun, New Island; Striated Caracara, Steeple Jason Island; Magellanic Snipe chick, Sea Lion Island.

An Expedition Overview

Experience the vibrant spring of South Georgia, a true Antarctic wildlife paradise. Observe and photograph wildlife behaviors seldom seen beneath the towering, snow-blanketed mountains that dominate the island’s landscape. Southern Elephant Seal bulls fight for breeding rights while females nurse young, overlook vast colonies of loafing King Penguins, watch Macaroni Penguins cavort in the snow, photograph handsome Gray-headed Albatrosses in flight or attending to their cliffside nests and awkward Wandering Albatrosses attempting first flight. The itinerary includes six landing days on South Georgia and three landing days in the Falklands to observe too cute Rockhopper Penguins, Magellanic Penguins standing watch at their nesting burrows, and more Black-browed Albatrosses than you could ever imagine. To commemorate Shackleton’s famous self-rescue crossing South Georgia, CES also offers an optional trek retracing his steps. With Cheesemans’ twenty years of experience in the Antarctic region, they commit to an in-depth exploration of one of the densest wildlife spectacles found anywhere in the world, and with only 100 passengers, they routinely give you the opportunity to completely immerse yourself on each landing.

Two of the scheduled Falklands’ landings, New Island and especially Steeple Jason Island, rival the best locations on South Georgia. Those will likely include Salisbury Plain, St. Andrews Bay, Elsehul, Fortuna Bay, and either Cooper Island or Hercules Bay (for Macaroni Penguins).

Why Sign Up Through BIRDS AS ART?

If you have been thinking and dreaming of finally visiting South Georgia, this is the trip for you. There will likely never be another trip like this as the best outfit in the Southern Oceans business will not be returning after 2016…. Quit dreaming and act now. Though I will not be an expedition staff member on this trip, those who have traveled with me know that I cannot help but teach. And I will be doing a introductory photography program for the entire ship on our crossing to South Georgia. All who sign up via BAA will receive a free copy the new Southern Ocean Photography Guide (a $100 value) that I am currently working on. It will include pre-trip gear and clothing recommendations and a ton of info that you will find to be invaluable.

I will hold informal pre-landing briefings aboard ship so that when you land you know exactly what to expect and where to go. I will be available on the ship to review your images, answer your questions, and conduct informal over-the shoulder Photoshop sessions. And best of all, everyone who signs up under the auspices of BAA are invited to tag along with me on the landings where I will be glad to offer invaluable in-the-field advice. And the same goes for the shipboard birds in flight and marine mammal photographic sessions.

Again, if you would like to join me on what will truly be a once in a lifetime opportunity to a wondrous place, please shoot me an e-mail with the words “Cheesemans’ Last South Georgia Expedition” cut and pasted into the Subject Line.

You can learn more about the trip here. If you sign up on your own be sure to mention that you would like to be part of the BAA Group. I’d be glad to answer any and all question via e-mail or by phone at 863-692-0906.

Important Notes

#1: If you fail to e-mail me as noted directly above, and register directly with CES you MUST let them know that you would like to be part of the BIRDS AS ART group.

#2: Joining the BIRDS AS ART group as above will not cost you one penny.

For additional details on the trip and the ship, see Saturday’s blog post here.

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Click here and then either click on a category or a brand of by clicking on the red See All Qualified Items box. This deal is just what the holidays ordered. From now till December 23rd.


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5 comments to Life and Death on South Georgia… Warning: Bloody, Gruesome & Gory

  • avatar kathy woveris

    are you planing a trip to la jolla for the pelicans?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Kathy, The San Diego IPT has been sold out with a waiting list for quite some time. If you would like to join me for a private morning of instruction on THURS or FRI (1-14 or 15), please get in touch via e-mail so that I can let you know the cost. You should subscribe to the blog and read it every day so that you do not miss anything important 🙂 later and love, artie

      ps: my solo exhibit, BIRDS AS ART/The Avian Photography of Arthur Morris opens at the San Diego Museum of Natural History on SAT 1-16. There is a slide program at 8:30am that day.

  • avatar Belinda

    Unless of course, you actually saw it keel over?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Nope. It was very much alive when I left. Ted Cheeseman felt that the bird’s wound were far to grievous for it to survive. But I forget his reasoning…. artie

      ps: I do hope of course that you are correct.

  • avatar Belinda

    Not so sure about the sure death.
    Though large the wound is non-penetrating; a tear in the skin and fascia which has already dried and crusted over.
    I have seen many animals recover from (apparently) horrific injuries which at the time seemed terminal – their powers of healing seem far superior to Man’s.
    If this bird can walk, swim and feed, it will likely survive… imho.