By Peter Ryan, onboard scientist, expert in general ornithology, seabird-fishery interactions, evolutionary ecology, marine debris, solid waste management, biology of oceanic islands.

Leg 1, Day 25.

A very quiet day, that got quieter as it progressed. Even the White-chinned Petrels, which have been our constant companions since leaving Cape Town, gave up and were replaced as the main ship follower by White-headed Petrels. Only one albatross was recorded – a young Grey-headed visited the ship on station shortly before we left at 15h00. Short-tailed Shearwaters were regular before the CTD station, heading south, but dried up in the late afternoon, and from 17-18h00 only a single White-headed Petrel was observed. The late afternoon watch was enlivened only by a solitary South Polar Skua, which headed south like the shearwaters. At only 9 bird species, today was by far the lowest diversity recorded to date:

Short-tailed Shearwater 160 White-headed Petrel 15
Fairy Prion 10 Antarctic Prion 10
Black-bellied Storm Petrel 6 Mottled Petrel 5
Diving petrel spp. 3 South Polar Skua 1
Grey-headed Albatross +

 

An Hourglass Dolphin blows and breathes in a fraction of a second

The pre-breakfast brigade were treated to two groups of Hourglass Dolphins, which joined the ship’s bow briefly before moving away. 

Bull Kelps Durvillaea antarctica continued to be observed, with the last specimen shortly before dusk more than 3000 km from Heard Island.

A Bull Kelp drifts past, laden with goose barnacles, 3000 km from Heard Island