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Yearly Archives: 2018 − News

Falk­land Islands: Peb­b­le Island for sale

Who does not dream of an island of her or his own? This dream can come true soon in the Falk­land Islands, whe­re Peb­b­le Island is now for sale. It is not just any small island, but the 5th lar­gest island of the who­le Falk­lands, just out­si­zed by Wed­dell and Saun­ders Islands and, of cour­se, the two main islands, West and East Falk­land. Peb­b­le Island has an area of 10,622 hec­ta­res or 103 squa­re kilo­me­tres.

The­re is a ten­ant farm on the island with 6000 sheep and 125 catt­le as well as some simp­le accom­mo­da­ti­on for tou­rists. The farm as estab­lis­hed as ear­ly as 1846 when Peb­b­le Island and 3 neigh­bou­ring islands were bought by John Mark­ham Dean for a mere 400 pound. A sup­ply ship comes every once in a while and the­re is a litt­le run­way for flights from Stan­ley (45 minu­tes fly­ing time).

Falkland Islands scenery

Typi­cal Falk­land Island sce­ne­ry in fine wea­ther (the wea­ther is not always fine).
White beaches, green hills, pen­gu­ins.

Peb­b­le Island was occu­p­ied by several hund­red Argen­ti­ne sol­di­ers during the Falk­lands war in 1982, it was the site of the first com­bat ope­ra­ti­ons on land in the Falk­land Islands. The wreck of an Argen­ti­ne air­craft and memo­ri­als to Bri­tish sailors and sol­di­ers who died after the bom­bing of HMS Coven­try clo­se to Peb­b­le Island remind of the­se dark times.

Peb­b­le Island is an important bird area. An impres­si­ve num­ber of spe­ci­es is bree­ding the­re, inclu­ding several thousand pen­gu­ins (main­ly Sou­thern Rockhop­pers and Gen­too pen­gu­ins).

Clai­re Har­ris, descen­dant of John Mark­ham Dean, has announ­ced to sell the island. Offers can be made now until Janu­a­ry, the­re is no mini­mum. But it is safe to assu­me that the buy­er will have to put a bit more on the table than the 400 pound paid by John Mark­ham Dean in his days.

Rese­ar­chers are spy­ing on table man­ners of wha­les

Do mari­ne bio­lo­gists not alrea­dy know about the fee­ding and migra­tio­nal beha­viour of hump­back wha­les? After all, the­se ani­mals are the best-stu­di­ed wha­les in the sou­thern hemi­s­phe­re. So far, small data log­gers atta­ched to the ani­mals have sam­pled depth data, migra­ti­on rou­tes and water cha­rac­te­ris­tics. Now the­se litt­le aids can even pick up 3-D moti­on pat­terns and record under­wa­ter vide­os. Aus­tra­li­an and Ame­ri­can sci­en­tists were inte­res­ted in using the­se methods to find even more details about fee­ding beha­vi­or and food com­po­si­ti­on of the hump­back wha­les.

Humpback whales, Antarctica

Hump­back wha­les, Ant­arc­ti­ca.

At the same time, they used their time in the field to fas­ten con­ven­tio­nal data log­gers to the dor­sal fin of min­ke wha­les. The­se wha­les live clo­se to the ice in the sou­thern sum­mer and litt­le is known about them. The sci­en­tists hope to gain more infor­ma­ti­on about this spar­se­ly stu­di­ed wha­le spe­ci­es. Mari­ne ani­mals that bene­fit from pack ice habi­tats are par­ti­cu­lar­ly affec­ted by incre­a­sing sea tem­pe­ra­tures, oce­an aci­di­fi­ca­ti­on and incre­a­sing strong winds.

Pata­go­nia under sail 2018: triplog and fotos

Fol­lowing to the triplog and pho­tos of our Ant­arc­tic expe­di­ti­on with SY Anne-Mar­ga­re­tha in ear­ly 2018, we have now got the Pata­go­nia triplog with asso­cia­ted pho­to collec­tions and some short sto­ry­tel­ling online. With the log, sto­ries and pho­tos, you can join us retro­spec­tively at no cost and enjoy Patagonia’s won­der­ful­ly wild land­s­capes and water­ways with no “risk” of wind and waves, sea­sick­ness and cold – have fun!

Patagonia 2018, SY Anne-Margaretha and Rolf Stange: triplog, stories, photos

Hiking on one of Patagonia’s many remo­te islands.

And yes, we are fair­ly con­fi­dent that this Pata­go­nia adven­ture was not the last one of its kind, the­re is still so much to dis­co­ver! We have no dates fixed yet, and it won’t hap­pen as ear­ly as the next aus­tral sea­son (2018/19), but we’ll return to Pata­go­nia, no doubt!

South Geor­gia rat era­di­ca­ti­on pro­ject suc­cess­ful

The “South Geor­gia Habi­tat Restau­ra­ti­on Pro­ject” has been fol­lo­wed in several news posts on this web­site befo­re. This ambi­tious pro­ject is aimed at get­ting rid of all rats on the island of South Geor­gia.

Rats are a serious thre­at for sea­b­irds. Sea­b­ird popu­la­ti­ons on South Geor­gia have always been impres­si­ve, but small in com­pa­ri­son to what they must have been like in times befo­re the wha­lers inci­dent­al­ly intro­du­ced rats to the island. On remo­te islands which do not have natu­ral pre­d­a­tors, sea­b­irds nest on flat ground or in bur­rows, in any case easi­ly acces­si­ble for rats which eat eggs and chicks in mas­si­ve num­bers. After mil­li­ons of years without rats or other ter­restri­al pre­d­a­tors, sea­b­irds do not have effec­ti­ve mecha­nisms of defence. Even lar­ge spe­ci­es are con­cer­ned: the­re are obser­va­tions of Wan­de­ring alba­tross chicks being eaten ali­ve on the nest.

South Georgia pipit

The South Geor­gia pipit has retur­ned quick­ly to old bree­ding are­as.

Era­di­ca­ting rats is always chal­len­ging and even more so on such a remo­te, wild and big island. It had been done suc­cess­ful­ly espe­cial­ly by New Zea­land spe­cia­lists on islands such as Camp­bell Island which belongs to New Zea­land. The key tech­ni­que is drop­ping poi­son­ed bait from heli­co­p­ters. The bait and drop­ping tech­ni­que inclu­ding timing are desi­gned to era­di­ca­te rats while mini­mi­sing dama­ge to other wild­life. The main pha­se was com­ple­ted in South Geor­gia in ear­ly 2015.

As the sur­vi­val of only one pregnant fema­le rat could ruin the suc­cess of the who­le pro­ject, the sub­se­quent eva­lua­ti­on peri­od is of utmost impor­t­ance. This pha­se of inten­se moni­to­ring has been going on in South Geor­gia sin­ce the com­ple­ti­on of the main pha­se. A com­pre­hen­si­ve moni­to­ring expe­di­ti­on has been car­ri­ed out on South Geor­gia during the last aus­tral sum­mer sea­son, invol­ving trai­ned dogs and other tech­ni­ques to make sure no rat could remain unde­tec­ted. The good news is that “Team Rat” could not find any traces of living rats on South Geor­gia, as Neil Ali­son of the South Geor­gia Heri­ta­ge Trust (SGHT) could tell the BBC. A SGHT press release decla­res South Geor­gia rat-free, for the first time in 200 years!

Wanderalbatros auf Prion Island, Südgeorgien

Auch der Wan­der­al­ba­tros wird von rat­ten­frei­en Brut­ge­bie­ten pro­fi­tie­ren.

Birds have star­ted to return to their old bree­ding grounds quick­ly after the rats were gone, inclu­ding the ende­mic South Geor­gia pipit. Until 2015, it was restric­ted to a few pla­ces like small, rat-free islands. Sin­ce then, it has retur­ned to many are­as on the main island of South Geor­gia. Also lar­ger spe­ci­es inclu­ding pen­gu­ins and the majes­tic Wan­de­ring Alba­tross will bene­fit from rat-free bree­ding grounds.

The SGHT had initia­ted the pro­ject and rai­sed about 10 mil­li­on pounds that were nee­ded main­ly through pri­va­te dona­ti­ons. Tou­rists con­tri­bu­t­ed about 200,000 pounds per sea­son through auc­tions and dona­ti­ons on crui­se ships to South Geor­gia.

Post­card set Ant­arc­ti­ca: limi­ted edi­ti­on 2018

Many trips to Ant­arc­ti­ca span­ning a vast area from South Geor­gia to the Ross Sea and bey­ond have yiel­ded a tre­a­su­re of ten thousands of ama­zing pho­tos. It was obvious to use them for a stun­ning set of ant­arc­tic post­cards. Here it is!

The twel­ve pho­tos pre­sent a wide spec­trum of ant­arc­tic land­s­capes and wild­life from South Geor­gia to Camp­bell Island and from the Ant­arc­tic Pen­in­su­la to the Ross Sea. Alba­tros­ses and Pen­gu­ins (Emperor, Kings, Gen­toos and Chin­straps) are in the­re just as some of Antarctica’s ama­zing sce­ne­ry. And as a goo­dy for ant­arc­tic gour­mets, Scott’s hut at Cape Evans is also repre­sen­ted, with Mount Ere­bus towe­ring abo­ve it.

This set of post­cards is avail­ab­le in limi­ted edi­ti­on. Every set is num­be­red indi­vi­du­al­ly.


The new limi­ted edi­ti­on post­card set Ant­arc­ti­ca with twel­ve stun­ning post­cards.

Click here for more infor­ma­ti­on about the new post­card set Ant­arc­ti­ca.

And by the way – the­re is of cour­se also a set of Spits­ber­gen post­cards, also new, also limi­ted edi­ti­on.

Type B Kil­ler wha­les: Evo­lu­ti­on in Ant­arc­ti­ca

The­re are a lot of visi­tors to the Ant­arc­tic Pen­in­su­la every aus­tral sum­mer. Most of them are watching wild­life and taking hund­reds of pic­tures. Popu­lar sci­ence pro­jects like Hap­py Wha­le pro­vi­de a lot of digi­tal pho­to mate­ri­al for mari­ne mam­mal rese­ar­chers all over the world. So one could assu­me wha­le popu­la­ti­ons and their cha­rac­te­ris­tics espe­cial­ly in the fre­quent­ly visi­ted Ant­arc­tic Pen­in­su­la are well estab­lis­hed. Howe­ver, natu­re can still sur­pri­se us.

Ame­ri­can mari­ne mam­mal sci­en­tists have been loo­king clo­se­ly at dif­fe­rent groups of Kil­ler wha­les in the South Polar Oce­an during the past deca­de. We now know about four dif­fe­rent eco­ty­pes of Kil­ler wha­les in Ant­arc­tic waters. The lar­gest Kil­ler wha­les belong to type A. They main­ly hunt Min­ke wha­les in the open sea. Type B Kil­ler wha­les live clo­se to the coast or the pack ice of the Ant­arc­tic Pen­in­su­la and type C ani­mals are fee­ding in the Ross Sea regi­on. The so far youn­gest and least known eco­ty­pe D roams in sub-ant­arc­tic waters, known bey­ond others to feed on fish of long lines.

Type B Killer whale, Antarctic Peninsula

Type B Kil­ler wha­le, Ant­arc­tic Pen­in­su­la.

Rese­ar­chers have been obser­ved dif­fe­ren­ces in body size wit­hin type B Kil­ler wha­les whe­re­as the body colou­ra­ti­on, such as the big eye patch and the dor­sal cape, does not show signi­fi­cant dif­fe­ren­ces. But appar­ent­ly, the­re are dif­fe­ren­ces in group size, fee­ding beha­viour and pre­fer­red habi­tat.

A com­plex habi­tat with abundant food resour­ces favour the spe­cia­li­sa­ti­on of pre­d­a­tors. Ani­mals might par­ti­ti­on resour­ces and habi­tats amongst them­sel­ves. This is cal­led “niche dif­fe­ren­tia­ti­on” in eco­lo­gy. Whe­re some spe­ci­es (or sub-spe­ci­es) have simi­lar food and habi­tat requi­re­ments, they are usual­ly sepa­ra­ted geo­gra­phi­cal­ly, e.g. Kil­ler wha­le type B and type C. Is the­re enough space and resour­ces avail­ab­le to per­mit coexis­tence wit­hin one area, niches can be dif­fe­ren­tia­ted local­ly by spe­cia­li­sa­ti­on. Like that, dif­fe­rent eco­ty­pes can deve­lop and even new spe­ci­es can evol­ve over time.

In future we might look at type B Kil­ler wha­les as two dif­fe­rent eco­ty­pes. The lar­ger are hun­ting seals in the pack ice or clo­se to the coast, whe­re­as the smal­ler feed on brush-tail­ed pen­gu­ins (Gen­too, Ade­lie, Chin­strap pen­gu­in) and fish. Like that both groups belong to a dif­fe­rent tro­phic level in the food web: the lar­ger are fee­ding on pre­d­a­tors of krill fee­ders, the smal­ler feed on the krill fee­ders them­sel­ves.

The­re seem to be small gene­tic dif­fe­ren­ces alrea­dy. Indi­vi­du­als of type B can still mate with each other con­si­de­ring their bio­lo­gy, but mem­bers of the dif­fe­rent size groups obvious­ly rare­ly do so. Sci­en­tists sup­po­se that the gene­tic dif­fe­ren­tia­ti­on might have star­ted with the end of the last gla­cia­ti­on peri­od, when a lot of new space beca­me avail­ab­le due to the retre­at of the ice.


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