Wednesday, November 28, 2007

When Skuas Attack . . .

Skuas are probably the most seen wildlife on McMurdo base and they rule the joint. According to the Antarctic Treaty we aren't allowed to touch or harass them no matter how pesky they can be. Just the other day, I was walking with hot tea to Hut 10 for a party. Someone told me I should pour tea on the skua to get it moving. I figured he must surely be joking because birds usually fly away when you get that close. It just continued to sit on the ground about a foot from my shoes as I walked by. I easily could have introduced it to the simply pleasure of Earl Grey. Even if vehicles come by, the skuas won't always move.

The dreaded skua

Skuas were here first and like any animal they adapt to their surroundings. For the skua, that meant recognizing new food sources when humans came to town. When I was in the carpenter shop a couple nights ago, a skua came down to try and sample our beer.

mmmmmm, beeer.

The culmination of the skuas adaptability is in their ability to dive bomb us for food. They often glide in so that the unsuspecting victim has no idea they are coming and then suddenly, they are attacked. Earlier in the year, someone had a large bandaid on his ear and he was telling people it was from a skua attack. It wasn't, but it was likely enough that a lot of people didn't question it. The dining assistants are told to beware of wearing their blue uniforms outside because the skuas have learned to associate the color blue with food because we use blue trays to carry our food.

An actual skua victim, Jane Jo

A close up of the carnage


  1. good work on the photo captions, brody. and happy belated birthday!

  2. Skuas don't like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. You should have gone with something lighter like, Zima. :P

  3. brody,
    I like your tatse in beer. However when you stop in Wis Rapids I'll turn you on to Point Pale Ale. It is GOOD STUFF ! John Endrizzi