Elephants, Leopards and Lions - with flippers.

Tell us about your interesting Wildlife Experiences
User avatar
Dewi
Posts: 12847
Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 7:38 pm
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Elephants, Leopards and Lions - with flippers.

Post by Dewi » Tue May 22, 2012 6:35 pm

Orcas are the top marine predators of the region. Different pods specialise in hunting certain food. There are pods that remain offshore and never come close to land, others that roam both realms and yet others that are "resident" to certain areas.

We saw pods hunting Crabeater Seals by trying to knock them off ice floes, but were unsuccessful and on another occasion a pod were observed seemingly herding seals in order to teach their young to hunt. We were certain at the time that a kill was forthcoming as the seals were worn out after prolonged chasing, but they eventually got away, wether by design or that the Orcas had only been interested in teaching excersise, I'll never know.

In the Falkland islands there is a pod of Orcas that return to the same island each year to hunt South American Sealions and Elephant Seals. They wait offshore and try to ambush young animals that are leaving the beaches that are inexperienced. One individual female has taken her hunting prowess to another level and sneaks down a narrow channel at high tide into a pool where she grabs the pups before taking them into deeper water. We watched her one morning as she attempted this manouver, but she failed to catch anything that day. At the time, she did not have a calf with her, but since then, she now has a calf in tow and is teaching her youngster this method of hunting.

The pod has grown since I was there, but they still visit the same beaches each year and you can almost set your watch with the timing of their visits.

The big male is an impressive sight with his huge dorsal fin.
Image

Image

When the femals is close in hunting, the others remain offshore.
Image

Image

Image

Image

The female checks out all the rock ledges looking for unwary pups.
Image

Image

Image

Image

If she sees any close to the edge, she will create a wave to try to wash them into the water where she has a chance of grabbing one.
Image

But failed to catch anything whilst we were present that day.
Image

As mentioned earlier, this female now has a calf. They were filmed for David Attenborough's Life series. You can watch them in action here.....


User avatar
Dewi
Posts: 12847
Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 7:38 pm
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Elephants, Leopards and Lions - with flippers.

Post by Dewi » Tue May 22, 2012 6:36 pm

Some scenics from two of the places I worked at briefly when we did a clean-up operation of two old bases. One at Danco Island, the other at Prospect Point.

Two of the tents with an icing of frost.
Image

Brabant Island.
Image

Sable Pinnacles.
Image

Red algae in the ice.
Image

Clear ice on the beach.
Image

Gentoo Penguins take a breather.
Image

An avalanche pourd down the slopes of Coronation Peak (3,000ft.) on Ronge Island.
Image

An iceberg that has recently turned over.
Image

Elvis was also seen -O
Image

Prospect Point.
Image

Evening light.
Image

Last rays of the sun.
Image

Orange sky.
Image

User avatar
Dewi
Posts: 12847
Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 7:38 pm
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Elephants, Leopards and Lions - with flippers.

Post by Dewi » Tue May 22, 2012 9:06 pm

Weddell Seals are 2.5 to 3.3m long and weigh up to 600kg, with the females being slightly larger than the males. they breed on the fast ice during late Winter and have to chew breathing holes in the ice which they also use to haul out. They are very vocal when underwater and produce some amazing "songs" which can be heard from above. These songs consist of trills, whistles and resonant gulping sounds and can be very eerie when first heard. They feed mainly on fish and squid, which they dive to depths of 750m for up to an hour or more.

In late September, the females haul onto the ice to pup. Pups are fed a rich diet of milk by the mother and can swim wihin 10 days of being born, but remain near the breathing holes and often haul out for the most part early on. The pups are weaned at around 53 days and are abandoned by the mother at this point to fend for themselves.

Weddell Seals hauled out onto the ice.
Image

Weddell Seal portrait.
Image

A pregnant female just prior to giving birth. Note the attendance of a Sheathbill.
Image

Newborn pup.
Image

Pups grow quickly and can enter the water within 10 days.
Image

Image

At this stage, the pups are at their cutest.
Image

Image

They quickly put on weight.
Image

And are weaned after 53 days.
Image

They will take 6 or 7 years to reach maturity when they can start to breed themselves.
Image

Image

User avatar
Dewi
Posts: 12847
Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 7:38 pm
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Elephants, Leopards and Lions - with flippers.

Post by Dewi » Tue May 22, 2012 9:08 pm

Mel - I've always tried to get to see as much of each species' behaviour if possible. With some, it's a case of just sitting and watching, but with others, it's much harder and takes a lot of time.

Fluts - You could only handle them under license, which I did not have for Weddell Seals, but when working on Fur Seals, we caught and tagged thousands of them. A female turned up on the island each year who was tame (or was she just a bit crazy in the head?). She would seek out human company and drove other seals away. She coud be quite a pest sometimes, but to interact with a wild animal was an amazing experience.

Meet Wendy......
Image

User avatar
Dewi
Posts: 12847
Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 7:38 pm
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Elephants, Leopards and Lions - with flippers.

Post by Dewi » Tue May 22, 2012 9:08 pm

Ok, I'm going to try to post a video clip, so I hope it works.

This clip was taken with a video camera bolted to the ceiling of the bridge aboard the ship as we headed North from the Peninsula.

Image

User avatar
Dewi
Posts: 12847
Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 7:38 pm
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Elephants, Leopards and Lions - with flippers.

Post by Dewi » Tue May 22, 2012 9:09 pm

For those who cannot see the video clip, some pics of the various Ships and craft used.

Crossing Drakes Passage on a calm day.
Image

Entering the pack ice.
Image

The ship arrives after the winter, bringing mail and fresh food.
Image

And carves a dock in the ice to offload cargo.
Image

In calm weather.
Image

And going ashore in not so calm seas.
Image

Unloading the RIB.
Image

Off to work we go!
Image

Spot the RIB.
Image

Customs officials waiting onshore. :lol:
Image

Going through the Gullet.
Image

User avatar
Dewi
Posts: 12847
Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 7:38 pm
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Elephants, Leopards and Lions - with flippers.

Post by Dewi » Tue May 22, 2012 9:10 pm

Grey Headed Albatross have a wingspan of 2.2m. They come ashore to breed once every two years. Their diet of mainly squid is one of the reasons for the biannual cycle as they take longer to get back into breeding condition compared to their relatives, the Black-browed Albatross which feeds mainly on fish. They return to the colonies in late September and lay a single egg in October. Thy raise the chick throughout the Sumer months and when fledged, the young birds spend five to seven years at sea before returning to breed. One individual that was sattelite tagged circumnavigated the Antarctic continent twice.

Grey Headed Albatross at sea.
Image

Returning to the breeding colony.
Image

Image

Image

They breed on craggy, tussac strewn ledges.
Image

One of the most stunning looking of all the Albatross species.
Image

Returning birds display to attract a mate with head bows.
Image

Nests are built of mud into a small tower above the damp ground.
Image

Grey Head pair at nest.
Image

Adult incubating single egg.
Image

Fledged chicks wander the Southern Ocean.
Image

Image

User avatar
Dewi
Posts: 12847
Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 7:38 pm
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Elephants, Leopards and Lions - with flippers.

Post by Dewi » Tue May 22, 2012 9:10 pm

Running a bit late tonight, so just a few photos of some ice to put in your gin & tonics for the weekend. :lol:

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Cheers. \O

User avatar
Dewi
Posts: 12847
Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 7:38 pm
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Elephants, Leopards and Lions - with flippers.

Post by Dewi » Tue May 22, 2012 9:11 pm

Running a bit late tonight, so just a few photos of some ice to put in your gin & tonics for the weekend. :lol:

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Cheers. \O

User avatar
Dewi
Posts: 12847
Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 7:38 pm
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Elephants, Leopards and Lions - with flippers.

Post by Dewi » Tue May 22, 2012 9:12 pm

Two species of Giant Petrels occur in the region, the Northern and Southern Giant Petrel. Both are very similar in appearance and the best way to identify them is by the colour of the bill tip. Apple green in Southern, red-brown in Northern. Eye colour is also a distinguishing feature. Both species ocurr in a variety of colour phases, ranging from almost black to pure white, but only the Southern get to be pure white.

They are the Vultures of the Southern Oceans, feeding on carcasses of any animal or bird they come across. Being members of the Petrel family, they have an acute sense of smell and can pick up odours from phenomenal distances away and home in on a meal. They will also attack and kill injured birds or mammals when the opportunity arises.

Southern Giant Petrel.
Image

Image

Northern Giant Petrel.
Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Southern Giant Petrel Chick.
Image

Image

When feeding at a carcasse, they display aggressively to establish a hierarchy.
Image

Image

They will attack injured birds or mammals.
Image

And clean up the beaches when a seal pup is killed by being trampled by the big bulls.
Image

Image

Return to “Tales of Wildlife Experiences & Animal Behaviour”