ANTARCTIC SUMMER: Cormorants

ambience: Blue-Eyed Cormorant nesting

Although it’s the middle of the winter across the United States, summer’s just begun at the bottom of the world. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Summer in Antarctica isn’t so different from winter here. Temperatures hover just above freezing, but that’s just warm enough for the winter ice to melt away. And with the summer comes a fresh start to the activity of the local wildlife. Right now, we’re listening to the sounds of Antarctica’s blue-eyed cormorants.

Rolf Bjelke and Deborah Shapiro spent the winter in Antarctica, with their ship, the Northern Light, frozen in the Antarctic ice. From this vantage point, they had the rare chance to watch Antarctica wake up from its long winter. And one of the first things they saw were cormorants building their nests.

“The cormorant colony was about a mile away from where Northern Light sat in the ice, and cormorants typically choose a very steep promontory to put their colony, because they need a good take-off space. It’s a heavy bird, and they don’t have a very easy time starting to fly, so they usually just step away from their nest, drop into the air and flap like crazy. The flapping of the wings that you hear is a bird taking off from the colony.”

Cormorants build their nests out of seaweed, which means that the location of the nest is a crucial factor in protecting it from the elements.

“They started to build their nests on this promontory at a very difficult time in the beginning, because the wind kept blowing the nests away, especially those that made the mistake of building outside of the colony.”

We’ll hear more about the Antarctic summer in future programs.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation.

ANTARCTIC SUMMER: Cormorants

It’s summer in Antarctica, and the blue-eyed cormorants there are building their seaweed nests.
Air Date:01/14/1998
Scientist:
Transcript:


ambience: Blue-Eyed Cormorant nesting

Although it's the middle of the winter across the United States, summer's just begun at the bottom of the world. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Summer in Antarctica isn't so different from winter here. Temperatures hover just above freezing, but that's just warm enough for the winter ice to melt away. And with the summer comes a fresh start to the activity of the local wildlife. Right now, we're listening to the sounds of Antarctica's blue-eyed cormorants.

Rolf Bjelke and Deborah Shapiro spent the winter in Antarctica, with their ship, the Northern Light, frozen in the Antarctic ice. From this vantage point, they had the rare chance to watch Antarctica wake up from its long winter. And one of the first things they saw were cormorants building their nests.

"The cormorant colony was about a mile away from where Northern Light sat in the ice, and cormorants typically choose a very steep promontory to put their colony, because they need a good take-off space. It's a heavy bird, and they don't have a very easy time starting to fly, so they usually just step away from their nest, drop into the air and flap like crazy. The flapping of the wings that you hear is a bird taking off from the colony."

Cormorants build their nests out of seaweed, which means that the location of the nest is a crucial factor in protecting it from the elements.

"They started to build their nests on this promontory at a very difficult time in the beginning, because the wind kept blowing the nests away, especially those that made the mistake of building outside of the colony."

We'll hear more about the Antarctic summer in future programs.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation.