|Gentoo penguins on the crest of the hill|
|Bloody leopard seal- Law of Nature- kill or be killed!|
|Leopard seal on ice- whales are coming!|
|We watch seal for whales!|
We continue to go out on the Zodiacs twice a day to discover what thee is to see on the White Contient. Theere are only 3 kind of penguins, 3 kinds of seals, several kinds of birds and several kinds of whales who thrive down here. Nothing grows on the land of white!! Living things eat sealife- krill mostly.
Today we see gentoo penguins. With flamboyant red-orange beaks, white-feather caps, and peach-colored feet, gentoo penguins stand out against their drab, rock-strewn Antarctic habitat. These charismatic waddlers, who populate the Antarctic Peninsula and numerous islands around the frozen continent, are the penguin world’s third largest members, reaching a height of 30 inches and a weight of 12 pounds.
Gentoos are partial to ice-free areas, including coastal plains, sheltered valleys, and cliffs. They gather in colonies of breeding pairs that can number from a few dozen to many thousands. Gentoo parents, which often form long-lasting bonds, are highly nurturing. At breeding time, both parents will work to build a circular nest of stones, grass, moss, and feathers. The mother then deposits two spherical, white eggs, which both parents take turns incubating for more than a month. Hatchlings remain in the nest for up to a month, and the parents alternate foraging and brooding duties.
Like all penguins, gentoos are awkward on land. But they’re pure grace underwater. They have streamlined bodies and strong, paddle-shaped flippers that propel them up to 22 miles an hour, faster than any other diving bird.
Adults spend the entire day hunting, usually close to shore, but occasionally ranging as far as 16 miles out. When pursuing prey, which includes fish, squid, and krill, they can remain below for up to seven minutes and dive as deep as 655 feet.
Gentoo penguins are a favored menu item of the leopard seals that patrol the waters around their colonies. On land, adults have no natural predators other than humans, who harvest them for their oil and skin. Gentoo eggs and chicks, however, are vulnerable to birds of prey, like skuas and caracaras.
Gentoo numbers are increasing on the Antarctic Peninsula. They are protected by the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 and received near threatened status on the IUCN Red List in 2007.
The leopard seal is named for its black-spotted coat. The pattern is similar to that of the famous big cat, though the seal's coat is gray rather than golden in color. This seal is sometimes called the sea leopard, and the resemblance is more than skin deep. Like their feline namesakes, leopard seals are fierce predators. They are the most formidable hunters of all the seals and the only ones that feed on warm-blooded prey, such as other seals. Leopard seals use their powerful jaws and long teeth to kill smaller seals, fish, and squid.
These effective predators live in frigid Antarctic and sub-Antarctic waters, where they also eat penguins. They often wait underwater near an ice shelf and snare the birds just as they enter the water after jumping off the ice. They may also come up beneath seabirds resting on the water surface and snatch them in their jaws.
Shellfish are a far less dramatic prey but still an important part of the leopard seal's diet.
Leopard seals are earless seals. They have long bodies (10 to 11.5 feet) and elongated heads. Like most other seals, leopard seals are insulated from frigid waters by a thick layer of fat known as blubber. Though the leopard seal is known for its coat, it has not been commercially hunted for its skin like its fur seal relatives. Leopard seals eat the gentoos and whales eat the seals. It's a jungle out there!! ( so to speak)