Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Snow Petrels

The beauty of these birds is not driven by spectacular plumage or dazzling colors, but the antithesis of gaudy and flashy. They are white. Pure, gentle white with jet black eyes and bill. Nothing else. They are pagophilic or ice loving birds and they are a quintessential Antarctic birds, highly associated with pack ice environments. I love when we get into ice and they start showing up, moving along the ice edge and then following the ships track through the ice, stopping to gather food items from the ice as it is turned over and tumbled in our tracks.

Typical Snow Petrel feeding habitat. They nest in small caves and cracks in exposed rocks throughout the Antarctic Peninsula.

This Snow Petrel caught a small fish, perhaps a Antarctic Silverfish (Pleurogramma antarcticum), a fish that is fairly common in seabird diets because unlike most other fish in Antarctica, these inhabit mid to surface waters. Like all other Antarctic fish, these lack a swim bladder. Most other species are found on the seafloor because they cannot float but the Silverfish maintain their boyancy through fat sacs in their body.

I have plenty more Snow Petrel photos and as I go through them I may post a few more.

1 comment:

Mark Churchill said...

Unspeakably beautiful.