First, a correction to last week's entry. The location of the excursion was Hannah Point on Livingston Island, not Elephant Island. Our guides who (much to our sense of personal pride and gratitude) are avid followers of the blog, noticed the error and Tim wrote us to let us know we had our location wrong, and we're happy to correct the record! :-)
Last week we showed you the penguin colonies at Hannah Point, where Chinstraps and Gentoo nest together, and even a few Macaroni penguins were part of the rookery. This week is all about the other residents of Hannah Point, several dozen Elephant Seals who were sharing the beach for their molting season, just yards (and in some cases, inches or less) from the penguins.
Once a year Elephant Seals, who can weigh up to 5,000 pounds when fully grown, have to shed their fur and grow a completely new coat. To accomplish this feat their bodies open up blood vessels much closer to the surface of their blubber jacket to feed the skin to re-grow fur. With so much blood closer to the surface, they radiate a lot more heat than usual, and if they stayed in the water that heat would get quickly sucked out of them and the seals would freeze to death. So they come to shore, and pile on the beach together to protect themselves and each other from the elements.
This is a pretty boring time for the seals as they're sleeping a lot and conserving their energy. After all, like a hibernating bear, they're not hunting for a while and they have to make their internal energy stores last. There's a lot of scratching, burping, some singing and playful barking. All in all a pretty lazy time.
This is good for the nearby penguin population, for while penguins sometimes make up part of the Elephant Seal's diet, during molting season there's more-or-less a truce. These seals don't really hunt on land, and they're not really in feeding mode anyhow.
As a result of all this, we got some fantastic photos and found some really expressive Elephants. We hope you agree.
This next bit was just as cute as it looks. I decided to give voice to the baby penguin's thoughts.
Here's that last photo on its own:
Read the next chapter: Day 10: Deception Island - Part 1: Walking on the Moon
Table of Contents:
Introduction: Telling the Story posted Jan 10, 2009
Day 0: Positioning posted Jan 12, 2009
Leaving, on a jet plane posted Jan 12, 2009
Day 1: The Herc posted Jan 15, 2009
Day 1: Penguino posted Jan 16, 2009
Day 2: Chicken posted Jan 17, 2009
Day 2: Leopard posted Jan 19, 2009
Day 2: Snow Day posted Jan 22, 2009
Day 2: Shipwreck posted Jan 26, 2009
Day 2: Totally Tabular posted Jan 27, 2009
Day 3: Gentoo Cute posted Jan 29, 2009
Day 3: Lichen Shag Glacier posted Feb 3, 2009
Day 3: Palmer Station Visit posted Feb 9, 2009
Day 4: Icy Penguins posted Feb 11, 2009
Day 4: Adelie Awesome posted Feb 15, 2009
Day 4: Leopard Seal Attack posted Feb 17, 2009
Day 4: Kayak posted Feb 19, 2009
Day 4: Vernadsky Station Visit posted Feb 23, 2009
Day 4: Vernadsky Sunset posted Feb 25, 2009
Day 5: Antarctic Circle posted Feb 27, 2009
Day 5: Polar Plunge posted Mar 5, 2009
Day 5: Mouth of The Gullet posted Mar 13, 2009
Day 5: Ice Camping posted Mar 18, 2009
Day 6: Flamingos on Ice posted Mar 20, 2009
Day 6: Mountain Climbing posted Mar 24, 2009
Day 6: Ice Textures posted Mar 26, 2009
Day 6: Antarctic New Years posted Apr 2, 2009
Day 7: Crystal Sound Icebreaker posted Apr 9, 2009
Day 7: Abandoned Antarctica: Base W - Part 1 posted Apr 17, 2009
Day 7: Abandoned Antarctica: Base W - Part 2 posted Apr 21, 2009
Day 8: Bird Watching in the Fish Islands posted Apr 23, 2009
Day 8: Icee Day - Part 1 posted May 5, 2009
Day 8: Icee Day - Part 2 posted May 11, 2009
Day 9: Port Lockroy - Base A posted May 20, 2009
Bonus Chapter: Baby Penguins! posted May 21, 2009
Day 9: Antarctic Humpback Whales posted June 3, 2009
Day 9: Dallmann Butt Sliding posted June 11, 2009
Day 10: Birthday Whales posted June 23, 2009
Day 10: Hannah Point Part 1: The Birds posted July 15, 2009
» Day 10: Hannah Point Part 2: Elephant Seals posted July 22, 2009
Day 10: Deception Island - Part 1: Walking on the Moon posted Dec 11, 2009
Day 10: Deception Island - Part 2: The Martian Chronicles of Oz posted Dec 15, 2009
Day 11: Emperor Penguins posted Jan 8, 2010
Day 12: Black and White and Pink All Over posted Aug 4, 2011
More chapters posted every few days...
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