Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"Spring" Episode of Frozen Planet

"Spring" is the second episode in the Frozen Planet series about the Earth's polar regions.  The episode begins with footage of Adelie penguins in Antarctica as the breeding season begins.  It shows male Adelie penguins collecting rocks to build nests including males stealing rocks from others' nests.

The "Spring" episode also features King Penguins and Southern Elephant Seals in the South Georgia Islands.  It includes showing the bull seals fighting for role as "beachmaster."

The end of the episode comes back around to Antarctic and the Adelie Penguins.  This part features the Adelie Penguins finding mates and female penguins going fishing while the males incubate the eggs.  The Adelies are scared out of the water when Orca whales arrive.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

"The Ends of the Earth" episode of Frozen Planet

"The Ends of the Earth" is the first episode in the Frozen Planet series about the polar regions.  The first half of the episode is mainly about the Arctic while the second half features the Antarctic.

The Gentoo penguins are discussed and featured in this episode with discussion on bodysurfing.  There is also discussion of penguins in general with the Gentoo penguin footage.

The Southern Sea Lion is introduced to the narrative as it threatens the penguins ability to go fishing and the sea lion struggles to catch the penguins in the water.  The footage includes the sea lion chasing a Gentoo penguin on land.

The next animals shown in the episode are whales.  The whales featured include Minke, Southern Humpback whales, and Orcas.  The orcas (i.e. killer whales) are shown hunting seals (crab eater and Weddell) including the whales working together to make waves to crack the icebergs the seals are on and knock the seals off the ice.

After the killer whale footage, there is footage of the continent including discussion of its isolation and lack of mammals and reptiles.  It briefly mentions the two plants native to the continent before going on to discuss giant sea animals such as jellyfish.  Mount Erebus, a volcano in Antarctica, and the arrival of humans and early explorers like Amundsen and Scott are also mentioned.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Norwegian Jarle Andhoy Faces Trouble in Antarctica Again

Earlier this year Jarle Andhoy was in the news for taking an unsanctioned trip to the Antarctic to try to find any clues to what happened to the yacht and crew lost while he was on the continent the year before.  He has been criticized for being unprepared that trip as well as the current trip.  He did end up in trouble with the yacht heading back to Antarctica to make repairs at an Argentine base.  Whether he was really unprepared or not, it is not too uncommon for damage to occur with storms, especially with winter approaching in the Antarctic.

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Antarctic Blue Whales found to be surprisingly diverse

A genetic survey has found that the Antarctic blue whale population is surprisingly diverse.  An estimated 99% of the Antarctic blue whales were killed before the 1966 ban on whaling.  The population was down to less than 400, but is now recovering and possesses a surprising genetic diversity.  The diversity is key to the continued success of the population recovery.

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Grocery Stores take Ross Sea Pledge

Three grocery stores in the United States have taken the Ross Sea Pledge.  The pledge is related to the recent call for a Ross Sea marine reserve in the Antarctic.  By taking this pledge the grocery stores are agreeing to not buy or sell seafood caught in the Ross Sea.  The three grocery stores that have made this pledge include Safeway, Wegmans, and Harris Teeter.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Malaysia releasing Antarctic Research Programme commemorative stamps

POS Malaysia (i.e. Malaysia's postal service) is releasing Antarctic commemorative stamps on March 8, 2012.  These stamps honor Malaysia's Antarctic Research Programme.  The release includes 3 different stamp designs (2 worth 90 sen and one worth 60 sen).  The two 90 sen designs are featured on the same stamp sheet while the 60 sen has its own stamp sheet.   The first day issue envelope features images of researchers working in Antarctica.

90 Sen Malaysian Antarctic Research Programme Stamps - These stamps will be available as a sheet of 16 with 8 being 35 mm x 35 mm and 8 being 70 mm x 35 mm.  The design on the square 35 mm x 35 mm features a world map with areas highlighted.  The rectangle 70 mm x 35 mm design features Emperor penguins in Antarctica and a scientific researcher.

60 Sen Malaysian Antarctic Research Programme Stamps - These stamps come as a sheet of 20 with each stamp measuring 35mm x 35 mm.  The design for this stamp features the Antarctic continent with the Malaysia flag in the center.

Learn more about the technical specs of these stamps and find links to images of them on the POS Malaysia website here.

Penguins in Antarctica

While all 17 species of penguins are only native to the Southern Hemisphere, only 7 species are native to the Antarctic.  Of these species the Adelie has the widest range appearing on much of the Antarctic coast.  The Emperor penguin also is native to many parts of the Antarctic coast.

Both the Chinstrap and Gentoo penguin species are found on the Antarctic Peninsula and some sub-Antarctic islands.  The Chinstrap is also found on part of the Antarctic coast on the non-peninsula side of the Weddell Sea.  The Gentoo is present on more sub-Antarctic islands than the Chinstrap.

The Macaroni penguin is mostly found on sub-Antarctic islands, but is also native to the northernmost Antarctic peninsula region and southern coasts in South America.  The Rockhopper penguins have similar distribution being found on many sub-Antarctic islands and southern coasts of South America.  They are not native to the Antarctic peninsula region.

Penguins in Antarctica
  • Adelie Penguin
  • Chinstrap Penguin
  • Emperor Penguin
  • Gentoo Penguin
  • King Penguin
  • Macaroni Penguin
  • Rockhopper Penguin
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Distribution Map of Penguins

Brazilian Navy Refloats Fuel Tanker in Antarctic

Last week there was a lot of hoopla about the Brazilians possibly not adequately reporting the sinking of a fuel barge in December 2011.  The tanker has now been successfully refloated and will return to Brazil.  The state-controlled Petrobras helped salvage the fuel from near the recently destroyed Commandante Ferraz base and is transporting it back to Rio de Janeiro.  It has been reported that no environmental damage has occurred (i.e no leaking).

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