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Monday, January 21, 2013

Elephant Seals - The Davis Boys

This video is a collection of clips from the beach at the Davis Station. These boys are just playing,but they do get rough with blood being spilled.  

The Davis Boys - Antarctic Elephant Seals from Antarctic Horse on Vimeo.

For detailed information on the Elephant seal.More "Davis Boys" images below ↓

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Australia Day Celebration in Antarctica 2013

 Australia Day is traditionally celebrated on the 26th of January each year. It is the date back in 1788 that the first British planted their flag upon the soil of this country and proclaimed it to be theirs.

Personally, I don't celebrate that fact as my descendants are Scottish and German. I do however think it a time to reflect on the fact we are a free country, made up of the best that the world has and  that we have not had to resort to civil war or internal conflict to remain free. 

In Antarctica we celebrate the day like a lot of Australians by going to the beach. We also share the beach with the locals, Adelie penguins and Elephant seals. They don't seem to mind, watching our activities I'm sure with interest. The usual summer swim, beach footy and cricket are always the favorites. The water is nice and cool at  - 1.5° C and a suntanning is always good with the out of water temp. today at 0.7 ° C.

Now you may be wondering about the timing of this years celebrations by us down here in Antarctica. Well, we have our resupply ship Aurora Australis coming later in the week and nothing can hold up this resupply.So, we're just getting in before it comes.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Antarctic Wildlife - Snow Petrels

Scientific Name: Pagodroma nivea
Snow petrels are an all-white, small fulmarine petrel with conspicious dark eyes, small black bill and bluish gray feet. There are two subspecies of snow petrel that differ only in size.

Distribution and Abundance

Snow petrel breed on South Georgia, the South Sandwich Islands, South Orkney Islands, Bouvet, the Balleny Islands, and Scott Island and at numerous localities on the Antarctic Peninsula and Antarctic Continent.

Snow petrel are almost entirely restricted to cold antarctic waters and are associated with pack ice, icebergs and ice floes. Flocks are characteristically seen sitting on icebergs.

Snow petrel nest colonially in small to large colonies on cliffs, usually near the sea, but also inland. Some birds remain at the colony all year, but the main influx of birds to the colonies is from mid-September until early November.

Conservation status: least concern


The nest is a simple pebble-lined scrape usually in a deep rock crevice with overhanging protection. One white egg is laid in late November to mid-December. The egg is incubated for 41-49 days and the chick is brooded for 8 days. The chick then remains in the nest for an additional 7 weeks. Snow petrel chicks leave the nest in late February to mid-May.

                                   Giant Antarctic Petrel flying with the Smaller Snow Petrel

                                                                  Snow Petrel off Shore

Diet and Feeding

At sea, snow petrel eat mainly fish, some cephalopods (squid), other molluscs, and euphausiids. They also feed on seal placenta and the carcasses of dead seals, whales and penguins, and occasionally eat refuse on land. The Snow petrel do not normally follow vessels.

Snow petrel tend to fly low over the water but very high over land to avoid predators such as South Polar skuas.

Skuas are major predators, but severe weather conditions, especially heavy snow that blocks nest entrances, may cause adults to abandon their eggs or chicks to starve. Egg mortality is approximately 50% while chick mortality is typically 10-15%.

Source: Australian Antarctic Division