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Southern giant petrel        Images © Mark A. Chappell

These huge ungainly birds have an ugly reputation for carrion-feeding and for preying on seal pups, penguin chicks, and other slow-moving prey.   They also have a nasty habit of spraying intruders with incredibly acrid regurgitated stomach oil.   Nevertheless, giant petrels are excellent parents to their solitary chicks.   Adults occur in colors ranging from dark brown to grayish-brown to almost pure white, as shown here.   I took the photos above at Palmer Station, a U.S. research base on Anvers Island off the Antarctic Peninsula; the flying birds were following our ship in the Drake Passage.

  • Nikon F3, 90 mm macro lens with 2X converter or 400 mm EDIF lens, Kodachrome 64 (1990)