ANTARCTICA, CUVERVILLE ISLAND : A Gentoo penguin and its chick in
Cuverville Island, in the western Antarctic peninsula on March 04, 2016.
Waddling over the rocks, legions of penguins hurl themselves into the
icy waters of Antarctica, foraging to feed their young. Like seals and
whales, they eat krill, an inch-long shrimp-like crustacean that forms
the basis of the Southern Ocean food chain. But penguin-watchers say the
krill are getting scarcer in the western Antarctic peninsula, under
threat from climate change and fishing. AFP PHOTO/EITAN ABRAMOVICH
These are Brown Skuas on Cuverville Island (Google Map), Antarctic Peninsula. I’ve only been ashore at beautiful Cuverville one time (this time) and jumped at the chance to hike up the scrambly rock to a viewpoint out over the bay. This particular day, fellow Staff Bob decided to hike on higher but I stayed at this spot when I caught glimpse of a little baby Skua chick. I spent a full hour with this small family, at a distance and then once the parents were comfortable with me, slowly edged a bit closer.
This chick was so, so cute but her (just guessing the sex, here) wings were teeny tiny. I would guess her age somewhere between 3 and 5 weeks. You can see in one photo that she was really contemplating trying her hand at flying. Thank goodness she didn’t, far too young.
I had a great time up there, especially as the snow began to fall. Just before I left, another Skua decided to have some fun with my camera bag, and attempted to fly away with it for over 20 minutes. Must have been exhausting! By the end I was really rooting it on to at least get some air.
When I got back to the ship and showed some other Staff the photos of the chick, they suspected that it might not make it, having been born so late in the season. A few days later, while we were already further South on the Peninsula, we were hit with a big storm which dumped tons of fresh snow all over the area.
When we were back at Cuverville a week later, the rocks were all covered with thick snow. I was down in a Zodiac but asked Bob to have a look for me and unfortunately, no chicks in sight. Safe to say the little one didn’t make it, which is a straight-up bummer. So, at least she lives on here in these photos.