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26 April: Sea chickens (Scotia Arc Expedition 2013)

By: Dr Nerida Wilson, Category: Science, Date: 03 May 2013

We are still doing some deep trawls, which take up a lot of time, but it is fascinating to see different animals. And speaking of which...

26 April: Sea chickens (Scotia Arc Expedition 2013) #1

Nerida Wilson & Greg Rouse © Australian Museum

..., we have had the company of a couple of sheathbill birds. These really are one of my favourite birds of all time. Not the magnificent albatross, or the graceful aerobatics of the petrels for me…I love the clucking clumsiness of sheathbills on the deck.

They calmly scratch around the deck, walking unafraid among us humans, with all the domesticity of a barnyard chicken. They love to scratch around in the trawl net for treats. And with the nice break in the weather, we have had doors wide open. Well that was an open invitation for one of the sheathbills, who was discovered wandering around the captain’s cabin!

The day ended with the relaunch of the SCUD camera. After some teething difficulties (no leaking, yay!), we ended up with some neat footage showing the bottom where we had been trawling. It was amazing to see how the bottom was made up of consolidated rocks, and small microhabitats, which we would never be able to sample with the trawl we have.