A Whale of a Tale

The FIGAS flight was a little delayed, so Rob offered to take us to a little bay near the runway to see more elephant seals while we waited for the plane.

There were several pairs playing in the shallow water, alternating between leaning into one another like lovers…

…and rearing back and slamming one another full body like wrestlers, as these two are about to do.

I neglected to ask Rob about this behavior, but I suspect these “couples” were actually juvenile males and their behavior was part play and part the establishment of a pecking order.

It was a bit nippy near the water…

…so we headed back to the Rover, through a field of Magellanic Penguin burrows,…

…to where Rob had a surprise for us: the remains of a Sei Whale on the beach.

There were a number of vertebrae from the same whale, scattered further up and down the beach among the sea cabbages, blown there by a recent storm. I picked one up; it weighed about 15 lbs. Rob said that the whale had blown up on shore already dead and that it had taken the Caracara and other birds only a couple weeks to strip the carcass down to this skeleton.

But, no, Carcass Island does not get its name from this type of event. The island was named for the H.M.S. Carcass, the British sailing ship that first made landfall here over 200 years ago. And now we’re off to Saunders Island, named for a British admiral of the same vintage, just a 10 minute flight away.

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