On my glacier hike I traveled to Point 8. There I found a group of penguins lounging on the rocks near the water. Gentoos are adorable. Upon a closer look of their head, there are tiny bits of white feathers peppered on the black feathers. It reminds me of snowflakes.
Check out their tongue (see last photo) - it has structures reminiscent of a cat's tongue. Those structures helps the penguin hold on to slippery prey.
It is such a privilege to be able to watch wildlife display natural behaviors, such as preening (to take care of their feathers) or calling out (see the other photo with two making their gentoo calls). Wildlife here is amazing.
Soooo....... who is responsible for grabbing the little "nutrient" sticks out of the moss (see the first image)? We had the tops camouflaged so well (using bits of a camo shirt). Apparently, not camouflaged enough!
You may have guessed the culprit: it's a bird. Not a penguin though, but a skua. Skuas are very smart. I actually think they are fantastic! They are very curious. But they keep pulling out a few select nutrient sticks that we have normally in the ground to determine soil fertility.
We usually encounter a skua when we arrive at our site or one arrives soon after we do. The skua then observes us while we take our moss measurements. Then, of course, as soon as we leave, they likely go right to the nutrient sticks that we so diligently put back.
Oh Skuas. Please behave this time.
There is a glacier behind Palmer Station that has been shrinking over time. More on that later. For now, we can still hike the glacier and head to another part of Anvers Island called Point 8. Hikes like this recharges me. It is absolutely fantastic, with sweeping vistas all around. Simply magnificent.
We had a great Zoom session yesterday with people tuning in from DC, CA, NM, TN, TX! For those of you who could not be there, I plan on repeating the presentation next week at the same time. In February I will repeat it one last time, but for my fans in Europe! :)
OK, back to Antarctica: leopard seals are fearsome predators. If you see them lounging on an ice floe, they are likely resting and not a threat. In the water, however, a very different story. They will attack and eat (young) seals and penguins. Watch out!
Are they the top predator? Normally yes..... Unless an orca is nearby. Orcas are around, but not very common here. So while the orcas are away, Leopard Seals rule!
See many of you today at 11:30 US Central time (9:30 Pacific and 12:30 Eastern time):
Click here for the Zoom link
Meeting ID: 937 6767 4955
For schools that cannot make it today, I will hold another zoom chat later this week or next week at the same time of day.
In February I will have one final Zoom session far earlier in the day, so schools in Europe or beyond can attend too!
Going by ship to Antarctica is still very dangerous. Check out my youtube video regarding our December crossing of the notorious Drake Passage: the stretch of ocean between South America and the Antarctic Peninsula.
Hopefully, the conditions will be better when we return.....
Hi everyone, next week I would like to chat with as many elementary school classrooms as possible! If you want to join: yay! The times are in US times (so, 11:30 AM Texas time) but feel free to join from anywhere in the world on Tuesday, January 24!!
Feel free to share with schools your kids/nieces/nephews etc. go to, or teachers that you know. It'll be a great opportunity for them and us!
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 937 6767 4955
Some animals take a rest on station (like the crabeater seal on the photo), the Skua peeking over some rocks, or the chinstrap penguin picking up a rock. The only animal that actually lives on station is the Snowy "Noble" Sheathbill. See the photo of a sheathbill parent on their nest beneath some rocks. As always, animals have the right of way. So, we all work carefully around them. What a cool place!
This week has been windy and dreary, which prevented us from being able to measure carbon fluxes in the field. A good week to sort through some of my photos and share with you some of the amazing birds we saw as we traveled from South America to the Antarctic Peninsula. Seabirds can be formidable in size yet fly gracefully in the skies. Sometimes they fly very close to the ocean surface without touching it. It takes my breath away to see their beautiful maneuvers.
"Do penguins make a sound" is the question I was asked by The Reception Class at St. Edmundsbury Church of England School in Bury St. Edmunds, This class is learning about penguins, and their teacher loves penguins (who doesn't!! :😃❤️!!!)
The answer is yes. A bird research team at Palmer Station has an excellent video about this on their "palmer_birders" Instagram page (please click on the link or the photo above). The group is led by Dr. Megan Cimino. Two of her team members have been coming here doing bird work for years: Darren and Megan Roberts. Bird work includes not just penguins, but other birds also, such as the southern giant petrels. They work long days in the field, and have lots of cool data (pun intended!).
Growing up watching nature documentaries, I find myself now immersed in nature's splendor. As an ecologist I study how ecosystems function. Here I share with you my love of doing research in Antarctica - a place of sheer beauty