Monday, September 8, 2008

Birds, Whales and Al Gore

This is a kittiwake. It lives on the open ocean, mostly far from land.

It was one of the birds we saw almost every day. Whilst it was impressive in flight, it was the fulmar that really caught my attention. I watched one keep station with the ship moving through a choppy sea and into a stiff breeze at about 17 knots. For twenty minutes or more this remarkable bird did not flap its wings, using instead the local air currents created by the wind and sea just above the surface, to perfection.

This is Danny Catt. Ecologist, photographer and teacher, he knows more than a little about the birds and marine mammals of the North Atlantic. His wonderful presentations were a highlight of the cruise. One of his challenges was to tactfully raise the matter of climate change and its dramatic consequences on the ecology of the north, not least on the polar bear which struggles to survive at the edge of its range because of diminishing sea ice. Republicans, for instance, apparently do not accept climate change nor their part in it. It is not rare for some of Danny's audience to walk out at the mention of Al Gore and his film, An Inconvenient Truth.

Danny encouraged us to look out for whales. We saw a pilot and a humpback, but sadly no blue whale was to be seen.

The bird below is a glaucus gull. These birds often escorted the ship into open waters, apparently curious about the passengers and the small fish that are stirred up by the ship's passage.

1 comment:

Richard said...

You were very game standing under that big white bird, especially with the cost of doing laundry onboard! Janelle