Tag Archives: animals

Brandt’s Cormorant Diet Studies

—– Written for (and cross-posted from) the excellent Point Blue Conservation Science Blog – Los Farallones —–

My internship at the Farallones involved many different fascinating studies, but one of my favorite studies were the seabird diets, as they really tie in the oceanographic aspect of marine ornithology. We are lucky to be able to live on this incredible, rugged island surrounded by the Pacific ocean and work with the birds that call it home, but sometimes it can be easy to take for granted just how strong the connection is that these birds have to the marine environment. By incorporating the feeding ecology of the seabirds, we are also considering vast topics like oceanic health, fisheries ecology, and climate change, much of which is still poorly understood. Taking part in studies that delve into this mysterious, watery realm is pretty exciting. Brandt’s cormorants also happen to be one of my favorite birds on the island – how could you not love the silky black birds that look like Muppets with long necks and giant feet, and whose eyes are a vibrant, deep turquoise?


Male Brandt’s Cormorant in full display glory

Continue reading


Antarctica Lecture 2: Animal Life

*Since, for some reason, this is my most popular post, I have decided to update it as well as write additional information for those of you interested in the animals of Antarctica!*

Contrary to the extreme conditions in Antarctica, there is an abundance of life on the continent, most of it relying heavily on the Southern Ocean’s high productivity (thus there is higher biodiversity along the coast). Nonetheless, there are very few animals which spend their entire lives on the main land. The largest purely terrestrial animal in Antarctica is the flightless midge (Belgica antarctica), which reaches an impressive 0.5 inches in size. The snow petrel (Pagodroma nivea) is one of only three birds that breed exclusively in Antarctica. The Emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) is the only penguin that breeds during the winter in Antarctica (because it is too large to cram its breeding cycle into the brief polar summer), while the Adelie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) breeds (in the early summer months) further south than any other penguin.

The Southern Ocean is vitally important in the entire Antarctic food web, the base of which is phytoplankton. Feeding directly on the phytoplankton is krill – generally a broad collective term applying to 85 or so species of small shrimp-like crustaceans (order Eucarida). Of special interest is the Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba), which can reach 10,000 – 30,000 individual animals per cubic meter.

The most important animal in Antarctica

Continue reading