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Chinstrap Penguins and other Wildlife

February 7, 2023


For our last expedition of the trip we went by Zodiac boat to Half Moon Island. The island has a large population of Chinstrap Penguins and Fur Seals. Chinstrap penguins are easy to identify because it looks like they have a black strap running from ear to ear, under their eyes and beak. (See below)




This Chinstrap Penguin is standing in front of an old wooden boat from the past, when hunting whales was a big business. The large whaling boats would anchor in the middle of the harbor and these smaller boats would scout for whales. This boat is probably from the 1960's.




There are many water birds in Antarctica. The bird below looks a lot the the Sea Gulls we have in San Diego. That is because it is a relative - this is a Kelp Gull found widely in the Southern Hemisphere and the only gull in Antarctica. It nests on rocky cliffs and hunts for limpets and other mollusks along the shoreline.


Here are some more Antarctic birds.

This is an adult Skua.

These two birds are Snowy Sheathbills.

This also a Snowy Sheathbill.

This is a Skua in flight!

This is a juvenile Kelp Gull. Note how the juvenile looks different than the adult above.


This is a Southern Giant Petrel.

Next to the Southern Giant Petrel is a Northern Giant Petrel (Brown).

Northern Giant Petrel in flight.

Seals

There are several types of seals and sea lions that live in Antarctica. We saw Weddell Seals and Fur Seals during our time there. All of the seals below are Fur Seals, unless labeled otherwise.


This is a Weddell Seal.

Furs seals can walk on ice using their fore flippers reaching speeds of up to 12 miles per hour. They eat krill, squid, and fish and can dive up to 800 feet.




The red buildings in the background of this picture are an Argentinian Research Station. Since Antarctica is not owned by any one country, it operates under the Antarctic Treaty which specifies that only scientific and peaceful activities can take place there. Currently there are 70 permanent research stations scattered across the continent, representing 29 countries. The oldest existing research station was established by a Scottish Expedition in 1903. In 1962 the US built the McMurdo Research Station. The different research stations are all conducting a variety of research projects, and frequently share ideas and findings.

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Jon Faulkner
Jon Faulkner
Feb 11, 2023

Great post with lots of fun info. Love the pictures.

The gulls in Antarctica have a different diet than the gulls in San Diego. Our gulls seem to mainly hunt trash cans for partially eaten sandwiches and Taco Bell.

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Nancy Sedgwick
Nancy Sedgwick
Feb 11, 2023
Replying to

So true!

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Guest
Feb 09, 2023

How many hours a day do seals sleep?

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Nancy Sedgwick
Nancy Sedgwick
Feb 09, 2023
Replying to

Great question! The answer varies based on the type of seal and weather, but in general seals sleep about 6 hours per day. They take naps on the shore, but they can also sleep in the water. And when they sleep in the water they may sleep with one eye open to watch for danger.

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Guest
Feb 08, 2023

I love the seal photos! -Sarah

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