03 April 2007

Giant Petrel Chicks and The Grizzly of the Antarctic

The past couple of days have been filled with lots and lots of tivities. Yesterday the LMG left station bound for Puenta Arenas, Chile, and today, after a couple of meetings and logistics related things, I piloted a Zodiac out to Humble Island to do one of my new favorite things: Weighing Giant Petrel Chicks (affectionately known as Wooshies). As part of a long-term study called the LTER (Long Term Ecological Research), a group of 30 lucky Wooshies get the opportunity to be weighed every four days by a few enthusiastic human residents of Palmer Station. The Wooshies and their parents have become habituated to the presence of humans after 30 or so years of study, and this colony is one of the very few left on the continent that is actually thriving.

On a different note, a couple of days ago station personnel witnessed yet another predator/prey encounter between what I like to call the Grizzly of the Antarctic (the Leopard seal or Hydrurga leptonyx) and something that it was chomping on. It was hard to tell what was being chomped. Could've been a penguin. Might have been a seal. Hard to tell. But the Grizzly/Leopard was wallowing around for an hour or so playing with it's meal. Check out those canines!

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