D’Hainaut is an island inside Mikkelsen Harbor on the south coast of Trinity Island. I’m betting this geography notation makes this location of ‘island inside another’ as clear as mud in a swamp.

For clarity, picture the Antarctic Peninsula which looks like a scorpion tail jutting up from the continent. There’s a scattering of islands along the Northwest side called the Palmer Archipelago and Trinity Island is within this chain.

In the era of whale slaughtering, factory ships moored off D’Hainaut and the remains of casks, ribs of boats, and bleached bones are still evident.IMG_5607 This day we chased through the harbor, following a group of Humpback Whales from a safe distance, shooting with our cameras rather than exploding harpoons.

There’s also a deserted Argentine refuge  from the 1950’s, a red hut a vivid highlight amongst snow-packed chinstrap penguin paths crisscrossing the site. The birds wander about, totally ignoring weaner Elephant seals head-banging and roaring.

Chinstrap and Gentoo babies here are much smaller and born later compared to those in the “warmer” north. In late December, chicks on South Georgia are about as big as their parents. Survivability is directly related to the amount of time the egg and chick remain warm before winter strikes again.  Regardless of the southern latitude, D’Hainaut remains an important breeding site.

This zen-like penguin community also ignored our single file conga line of yellow jackets as we carefully avoided their trails, called the ‘penguin highway’ to the sea Komossa512_DSC05890_Highway.

We also saw Snowy Sheathbills (nicknamed “Pattys”)

IMG_2649 sitting on the ice with a meal that looked suspiciously like the remains of a penguin chick. They also steal krill from penguins and are quite the scavengers. This is the only land bird native to Antarctica.

A Weddell seal enjoys a nap and a cute weaner peeks at us.

The last picture is of a Salp and is the most important thing I want you to take away from me today! This is a zooplankton related to jellyfish that form long necklace-like chains that float on the water. They eat phytoplankton and krill–just like everybody else in Antarctic waters.

Up to 200,000 tons of krill are harvested from the open ocean annually, even though the population continues to decrease from climate change. If tiny Krill are reduced, effects will devastate the entire cycle of life. Think about that next time you reach for the box of krill in the pharmacy or health food store. Are polar fish, birds, and mammals being sacrificed? Ultimately, the chain ends with us.

Please. Do not. Buy. Krill. Use another sustainable Omega-3.  

DMG432_wildlife-5

There’s a direct relationship to ocean temperature, krill, and salp populations. When there’s more ice, krill reproduce like mad. When ice melts and water warms, salp numbers increase. This isn’t a good thing, since salps aren’t as nutritious (lower in protein) for higher functioning animals.

 

 

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