Dinosaur of the week: Southern Giant Petrel

southern giant petrel

There are about 10 000 species of modern-day dinosaurs extant and this week’s number 151 is Macronectes giganteus which I saw while crossing the Drake Passage from Antarctica to South America. The birds are endangered by fishing, both long-line and trawl.

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Dinosaur of the week: Southern Rockhopper Penguin

rockhopper penguin

This Eudyptes chrysocome was breeding on West Point Island in the Falkland Islands in 2014. Seeing the colony was fantastic – a great mix of Rockhopper Penguins and Black-browed Albatrosses.

Rockhopper taxonomy is tricky. Some scientist distinguish between three species while others see three subspecies. However, all of them are in decline.

Souther Rockhoppers are classified as vulnerable on the Red List. The main threat is the climate crisis because the penguins need cold waters and the oceans are heating up. On top of that, oil pollution and hydrocarbon is a threat (https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/22735250/132664584#threats).

 

Dinosaur of the week: Wandering Albatross

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Diomedea exulans has one of the biggest wingspans of all flying birds, up to 3.5 meters. The Southern Royal Albatross can apparently be even larger. I saw this Wandering Albatross when crossing the Drake passage on my return from a trip to Antarctica.

All species of albatross are in danger, mostly because of fishing methods and plastic.

Here’s a recent account by Ben Lecomte who is swimming across the Pacific:

That was amazing to be in the water with four wild birds of that size just a few feet away from me. I got a fist-beck bump with two of them. Brian jumped in the water with a GoPro and started filming the when one of them went for a red piece of plastic and tried to eat it. Brian reached out and retrieved a small red plastic basket. A couple of minutes later I spotted two of them going after a white small plastic pouch. I quickly got to it, grabbed it and passed it on to Mark in the dinghy.

I can now better understand why so many albatrosses are found dead with their stomach full of plastic debris. A piece of plastic at the surface of the water stands out and easily get their attention. http://benlecomte.com/day-94-albatrosses-and-plastic/

Dinosaur of the week: Brown Skua

 

brown skua

Skua taxonomy is a wee bit confusing, but I think this is a Stercorarius antarcticus which I saw on King George Island on my trip to Antarctica a few years ago.

Skuas seem to have amazing cognitive abilities. Like crows and pigeons, they can recognize individual humans (doi: 10.1007/s10071-016-0970-9).

Dinosaur of the week: Black-browed Albatross

black-browed albatross

Thalassarche melanophris lives circumpolar in the southern oceans. I saw these two and their colony on West Point Island in the Falklands.

The numbers of the black-browed mollymawk are decreasing, and the species is labelled Nearly Threatened. Longline fishing kills the birds as does trawl fishing, and of course plastic intake kills too.