Skuas are back to attack

by wonderfullyrich on November 7, 2005

I was attacked by my first skua today, well maybe attack isn’t quite the word for it.  Stared at was the word for this incident, but I hear they can be vicious.  I’ll try and get an up front close picture next to a tape measure at some point (or something size relating) so you can see how big these things are.  It’s summer and they are back from they’re winter stay in the north, apparently just like every other park in the world, the animals are used to people feeding them.  Unlike most parks, we seem to be violating few treaties by doing so, normally it’s just life in prison at your local lock-up. :))

To describe the incident I was walking out of the galley with my ribs, salad, and chocolate cheesecake wrapped up in saranwrap to protect against skuas (and fumbling idiots like me) and about 30 feet outside the door of the galley, a skua swoops in from behind me and lands in front of me.  It did a great job of scaring the living crap of me, but no food was lost and no feet became tripped.  I swear though he/she was huge and all I could think about is, I didn’t know they had webbed feet… Okay I’m weird, I know.  But all he/she did was sit there and stare at me as I walked by, when I was led to expect a pecking attack (like a goose after a kid) followed by a heated pursuit with the climax of a duel of kitchen utensil (often in hand and intended for dinner) verse a beak!  (Imagine that as a movie.) Of course I’m not allowed or supposed to interfere with the local wildlife to short of defending my life I’m supposed to walk way and stop interfering with them. 

Oh this does bring up another short anecdote that I’ve heard and verified.  There was a British Scientist walking on the sea ice (not permanent ice shelf) and was apparently attacked and dragged under by a leopard seal which broke the ice beneath her.  The seal thought she was a penguin and this is a favored method of attack apparently.  The seal can only see the shadow though, so there’s not much we can do as "prey" to guard against this, but it seems to be rare as this is the only one anyone’s ever heard of.

Needless to say this dangerous and harsh continent to be inhabiting, but at least I’m not worried about whether I’ll get shot by the cops, struck by lighting, or get run over by a car… oh wait that’s happened, but that’s a story for another day, when I get more details.  (Maybe I’ll see if I can find out about the car that fell of the cliff too.)


P.S. The weather is overcast with an ambient temperature of 5 degrees Fahrenheit, wind out of the east at 10 knots making it feel like -18 degrees.  A small storm is expected tomorrow. In other words, it’s bloody cold!

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