7 December, 1996

We're back to Cape Royds to collect algae mats from a small melt pool. To get to the pool we go near a penguin rookery that is also a site where skua's build nest. Not much is known about these birds. They go north and spend the winters at sea. They have been seen as far north as the West Indies and North America.

A skua will build a small nest of pebbles and lay two eggs but will only rear the first to hatch. They also have the habit of being very aggressive in defending their territory and will swoop down on intruders. In addition to getting algae samples, I hoped to get a picture of their aggressive behavior.

As we approached the melt pool, one immediately began attacking Pat. I quickly did my collecting and then took four pictures. One showed the bird and Pat, the other three were of the sky where the bird was and Pat ducking. The population here is not large enough to present a problem for us. In locations where they are more numerous, a bamboo pole is needed for protection. Since they will attack the highest object, a light pole held above head height is all that's needed. Chuck's solution was to carry his ice ax above his head. The scubas would hit the ice ax and then the ax would hit his head. That's a case of the remedy being worse than the problem.

Pat keeps skuas away while I collect samples.

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