King penguins at Royal Bay on South Georgia island
While there are plenty of other birds crowding the beaches and cliffs of South Georgia island, the king penguins—excuse us—rule the roost. Some 100,000 pairs of the world’s second-largest penguin species tread the temperate shores of South Georgia island and its outlying islets. The king penguin population wasn’t always so robust here. By the 1920s, they were hunted almost to extinction on South Georgia by whalers who used them for food and fuel. Thankfully, the dapper breed has made a successful comeback, sharing their environs with lots of gentoo penguins and blue-eyed cormorants. And although king penguins may be a little wobbly and deliberate on land, once they hit the water they transform into sleek swimmers and deep divers.
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