Antarctica Adventure - 2002

sits on the east side, so we were also actually in the Weddell Sea; this is the body of water that trapped Shackleton and his men for 9 months in the ice. We saw four kinds of seals: Crabeater, leopard, fur, Weddell, and two penguin species: Gentoo, and Adelie, both with chicks. We think that the Adelies with their totally black heads, white breasts, and pink feet are the most handsome of the penguins we’ve seen so far. The beach itself was aptly named for the towering brown crumbly bluffs that backed it up. It was not a very large beach but it was very much alive and we enjoyed the new brown, softer looking background. We observed an amazing behavior from the Adelies the “mommy” chase. Only the Adelies have this practice. When mom or dad Adelie returns to the nursery to feed their chick, they first identify their own baby by its cry and then they call to the chick to come and get the food. As the baby approaches the parent, it begins to run away from the baby so that it must run to catch up. Scientists have decided that there is a twofold purpose to this strange activity • the baby is isolated from the big nursery inhabitants and gets to eat all its own food in less frantic conditions and • the baby is made to exercise itself and thereby becomes stronger. We weren’t told why the other penguin types have not adopted this behavior if it is so beneficial. At any rate, it is very comical to watch because the parents are determinedly waddling away, the “furry” babies are in hot pursuit, screeching petulantly on their little wobbly legs until the parent decides that enough running has occurred. Then he/she stops and bends over the baby and regurgitates the meal into the chick’s waiting beak. Of course, there some scavenger birds waiting around to pick up any krill or squid that happens to miss the little hungry mouth in the transfer. Eating regurgitated fish sounds pretty awful, but we learned about a penguin adaptation that renders it less disgusting to our human sensitivities. All the Antarctic penguins have this wonderful capacity: when the parents go out to sea to feed, they first feed for themselves.

48

Made with FlippingBook flipbook maker