Today was super cool. The weather was, well, nasty. But we had to take advantage of the winds not being too high so we went out. Some of the islands we couldn’t approach without damage to the boat because the swell was so bad and the landings can be treacherous with so much snow. We ended up going back to our usual islands and started doing some giant petrel surveys. So giant petrels are these huge birds with wingspans of about 80 inches. Scientists have been working with them on Humble for about 20 years and they have become habituated to people, basically. When they’re brooding (sitting on a nest with an egg) they’re actually very sweet. We’re able to move them around (after approaching slowly and with gloves of course) to check for an egg, determine sex (culmen/beak size), and read the bands on their feet or add bands if they’re unbanded for identification. They also make a lot of crazy noise which means they’re happy, will nuzzle your hand, and try to bury their heads in any holes you have sticking out. These petrels can also bite the crap out of you and have bitten through hands in the past so beware! Anyway, new favorite birds!
Crappy picture of giant petrel on a nest.
n our way off the island, I saw a seal far off bending it’s neck in incredible ways which doesn’t make sense for these species of seals. Come to find out, its a fur seal! They actually don’t come this far south until much later in the season when its warmer and I didn’t think I would see them. Fur seals (which look like and are closely related to sea lions) are becoming more and more prevalent in this area during the summer because they take advantage of the lack of sea ice which is coming in less and less with our climate changing. Other seals that are native to this area rely on sea ice to haul out (lay down outside of water), for breeding/pupping, and for the main diet components to fluorish.
Not my pictures, obvi, but left seal lion and right is fur seal
I will try and steal pictures of today’s venture from my colleague later because I thought it was too crappy to bring my camera out.