30 March 2011

Elephants of Antarctica...SOUTH SHETLANDS (15 March)

OK so the South Shetlands are technically not Antarctica, although it made for a better title! We spent our last afternoon on Deception Island, thanks to calmish conditions allowing us to land and enjoy such thrillers as the Macaroni Penguins, and for me what was the best animal of the whole trip...

This was also arguably the most ugly animal of the whole trip: Southern Elephant Seal. For me this hulking beast is just a great thing to see. There they were piled up together on the beach, including among them some of the huge "beachmasters" that, earlier in the season, would have had a hareem of females and defended their beaches with extreme aggression, leading to outright battles and bloodshed.

Their scarred bodies betrayed their earlier antics and revealed some of them at least to be some of those beachmasters. Breeding season now over though they were "happy" to loaf around together and relax onshore, although every so often they would get agitated with each other (they do seem to be of a temperamental disposition), and suddenly wake up and glare at each other, or bear their teeth, or grunt grumpily at one another while steam drifts out from their bright pink gapes, making for quite the scene. My favorite Antarctic animal for sure.

Sadly this is my last Antarctic post, as I am now entrenched in High Island, Texas for the spring migration season. Daily updates from this migration Mecca to come...

No comments: