Encounters with penguins while enduring ups, downs of Antarctic weather

We've been riding a roller coaster with the weather.

Three good days (winds less than 20 knots and seas less than 6 feet).

Then two days of getting thumped (winds of 35 to 45 knots with gusts to 60, and seas of 10 to 20 feet).

Fortunately, we've been somewhat protected in our current location, Marguerite Bay.

The penguin biologists (with your narrator able to go along for photos and to provide unskilled labor) were able to go ashore and collect data on penguin diet and general health.

Our study site was Avian Island, a speck to the south of Adelaide Island at the northern end of Marguerite Bay. During the breeding season, 90,000 pairs of Adélie penguins live here.

Far fewer birds are around right now (only dozens), and the place would better be named "Seal Island." But more on the seal situation in our next installment.

Vital statistics were recorded for each bird: beak length and width, weight, diet, and sex.

Adélies weigh 8 to 12 pounds. They are considered one of the two "high Antarctic" penguins, the other being the Emperor of March of the Penguins fame.

Adélies feed mainly on Antarctic krill and silverfish when they can get them. In Marguerite Bay, some of the birds are finding silverfish to eat, and we are getting some in our trawls as well. Not as many as we had hoped, but some.

Encounters with penguins while enduring ups, downs of Antarctic weather 04/12/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 1:28pm]

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