Monday, 28 January 2013

Our first day at Sea Lion Island, 26/01/2013 (Alexandra)

Early in the morning on the 26th we departed for the southernmost island of the Falklands, Sea Lion Island.

Alexandra Mystikou and Pieter van West ready to depart with the rest of the team for Sea Lion Island

At the island there is only one lodge where can stay, the Sea Lion Lodge. An island with rich biodiversity of marine mammals, birds and of course seaweeds - which is the reason for this trip. Sea lions, sea elephants, rare birds such as caracaras and 4 different species of penguins are among those that you do not have to try a lot to find. Just a walk on the beach and you can everything through all the coastline of the island. This place is a paradise for the marine biologists!

Our first day included a quick walk to the Gentoo penguin babies, a careful one between the sea elephants and some sampling of algae and oomycetes. Water samples from Liverwort (Epaticae), some “red sand” (presumably due to the presence of a unicellular red alga), a seriously infected Durvillea (Brown algae) and an epiphyte on Durvillea.

Later on we visited the beach with the Magellanic Penguin parents trying to catch some squids or fish for their babies who were patently waiting in the nest. Really shocking for someone who is not used watching wild animal behaviour in a natural environment, is the fact that predators are always around penguin colonies watching and planning how to catch their prey, sometimes killing it in front you. But as a human visitor, you have to stay out and just watch without any interfering. Because that is how nature is. Even when I looked the Skuas and the Caracaras planning to attack the penguin babies I couldn’t do anything...

Our day finished with a pleasant moment with a penguin baby at the beach. Penguins are really curious with the humans. If you are patient and give them some time they can come very close to you...

Alexandra is taking pictures of a Magellanic baby penguin

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