On this particular voyage to Antarctica the giant petrels commanded my attention!
These birds are opportunistic feeders both on land and sea. Like other sea birds in the southern ocean they feed on krill, fish, and squid. However the giant petrel is capable of killing other birds as large as an albatross or king penguin. Their most common prey are young chicks of other species. They are important scavengers as well feeding on carrion of seals and penguins.
This trip I witnessed two separate feeding frenzies both on water and shore. As I waited for my turn to go to shore I noticed a large number of the giant petrels by the ship. The most dominant of the birds was posturing with wings spread as it ripping at the skin of a seal carcass floating in the water.
Most impressive was the group of giant petrels devouring the remains of a seal carcus at Grytviken whaling station in South Georgia. With their backs arched, their wings spread, and their necks outstretched they resembled the velociraptor from Jurassic Park.
Watch this interesting video I found on U-Tube! It says it all.
Our geologist onboard told me about a dig that he worked on dating rocks surrounding a find with feathered dinosaurs! It is not hard to imagine these birds as their decendants. Here is a link to the connection between birds and dinosaurs:
Still with all of the giant petrel's ferociousness, they are loving parents with chicks to feed.
Interested in viewing these birds up close and personal? Let Polar Cruises arrange a voyage for you.
Blog post by Sharon Keating from her voyage aboard the Le Boreal December 2011