Wind, waves ambiance
Dee Boersma, Christopher Joyce
Magellanic penguin discussion.
Dee Boersma, Christopher Joyce
Magellanic penguin discussion and field work.
Dee Boersma, Christopher Joyce
Discussing previous field work, performing necropsy, random conversations.
NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
15 Feb 2003
- Punta Tombo
- -44.03893 -65.20241
- Sennheiser MKH 30
- Sennheiser MKH 50
Decoded MS stereo
Log of DAT #10
Date: Feb 15, 2003
00:00 -8:19 Distant penguins and wind in shrub
8:40 talking -no good -asking about seeing them fight
9:00 9:47 wind, and penguins in distance
10:01 CJ -what d'we got?
DB -well, we have a juvenile and you can see that it just probably died this morning bc you see the eyes are really clear? And this is one of those examples about how any animal has a really hard time going from feast to famine. So this bird -let's just see how heavy it is - I think -
10:23 CJ -so you are using a strain gage...
10:26 DB - ...yup! scale here - So this juv weighs 5 ½ -- 4 ½ kilos -like close to 10 poudns. That is healthy. There is nothing wrong with this bird, except that it is dead -in terms of its weight. So I guess this is what happens sometime to people -where they gain a whole bunch of weight, and then they start fasting, and they loose weight really rapidly bc they quit eating and it could be dangerous to their health -well, some of these juvi every year we find that as these juv go throught the molt, a few of them die and presumably it is a shock to their system -they have been just gorging themselves and they have been a gluton for several weeks and have almost doubled their weight and then they come a shore and have to change all of their body rhythms and their hormones and go through this molt -grow all of these new feathers and loose all of these old feather and some of them die. Occasionally we will see adults that will die during the molt too -but more often its juv. And you can tell that this juv at least had some idication that was healthy and doing well -see these black feathers here? It actually molted some of their chick feathers and grown some new black feathers in here. 11:47.
CJ - So he was in the process of molting when he died?
11:48 DB - Well, he was just getting ready. If you feel -he is just barely starting the flippers are just starting to get slightly swollen, but he is not even in the first stage which we call slightly swollen. The next stage is we call feathers erect. He is just started to get slightly swollen. But the feathers -when he is feathers erect -when we go like this they will stay up the whole time (you can hear faint finger rubbing against feathers) they are still coming down a little bit. Then after that they are still loosing these feathers.
CJ -uh huh.
DB -and then they will molt a corner and then half and then all of them -and he will grow his new feathers, but it will take him about 3 weeks to do that -and during that 3 weeks he doesn't eat a thing. He can drink water but that is it. So that is one of the risks that people we know have. You know, if they are eating a lot and then they just suddenly quit -it is such a shock to the system, and presumably you know it is the same thing happening to these penguins. 12:43
12:49 DB -anyway -I would like to kind of know
12:50 AMBI - her getting out the equipment to measure the bird
12:58 CJ -what are you measuring?
12:59 DB- I am measuring the bill depth -I told you that we have a very sowed sex ratio -we know from genetic work -one of my students, Elaine Asky, did sexing of these penguins, and we know at hatcing, the sex rate is about equal, but certainly by the time the birds come back to breed we have a lot more males than we do females. So I am measuring the thickness of this bill bc what I predict is the birds that are more likely to die are going to be females. And with this wonderful n of one, we have a bill depth of 1.91 -that's a female.
CJ -so that is one way you sex it -the depth of the bill.
13:42 -CJ -what are the other ways?
13:43 DB - Well, if I had my calipers here, I could open her up and see if she has ovaries and if there are any other indications if something is wrong.
CJ- but externally you can't -
13:58 -DB -nope. I would just have to look for the ovaries.
14:01 -14:04 bg ambi
14:06 DB -but it is clear it is a female with that narrow a bill. But she weighs enough that there should be nothing wrong, and if you feel her, you can feel that there is a lot of fat there so she has got plenty. So she could have overheated, that is possible, but it is pretty unlikely especially bc she prob died yesterday or this morning -I mean not very long bc her eyes are so fresh, so, I think it is unlikely that she died from overheating. She certainly didn't die bc she was too skinny. So, I think it is probably just a change in the system and this is the time that we do see some birds dying -it is almost always in the molt, and in many cases it is often some of the heavier birds. She is not unusually heavy though. But that is a good fine weight. I mean, she should have gotten through the molt fine. 14:58
14:59 ambi in area -(Dee looking at bird, writing stuff down) wind, some breathing, messing around with her notebook and zippering bag at 15:38
15:38 zipper, and then clang of the scale
15:59 DB -I am just debating on whether I want to bring her back and do a full necropsy on her...we can leave her here, and come back this way -that is what I am trying to decide -if we are going to come back this way or not.
16:24 DB -I think I will lug her for a while. I sure like to make sure that she hasn't eaten anything that coupld have killed her.
16:37 -21:08 ambi -wind, some faint seguls in distance -and penguins in distance - ambi of the scene........**20:13 GLITCH *** but then back to recording of ambi
20:44 penguin calls -not great
21:08 DB - (beginning of sentence not recorded) ... to actually make a nest here on land. But you can also see that if you nest this far inland there is prob not a lot of other competition for your nest site, so we know that there are less fights here then closer to the sea. One of my former grad students, Dave Stokes, now at Sonoma, was studying the frequency of fights in part -inland and close to the sea, and we know that there are much less likely to fight at these inlands sights, and presumably in part bc the density is lower bc also bc you can see the quality of the nests are not nearly as good as they are closer to the sea where you can get bigger bushes and deeper burrows. You can't dig burrows in a lot of this area, bc it is just too full of gravel and sand so there is just no cohesion in the soil to dig a burrow.
21:56 CJ - Well, they have to conserve as much energy as much energy as they can for the important things and to walk an extra half a kilometer for a nest sight is a big cost to pay, isn't it?
22:02 DB - yeah. Well, we think it would be a big cost and in fact there is some cost associated with it but mostly it is not related to the cost of coming and going we don't think as much bc we don't see big diff btwn the growth rates of the chicks of birds that are nesting inland vs. close to the sea, but what we do see is that there is higher mortality of chicks in these inland nests bc more of them die from heat stress. So big hot days will kill chicks in the inland part of the colony and not nearly as many close to the sea bc presumably the sea breezes, and in fact there is a couple of degrees diff in temperature on some days. 22:43
22:44 but quite a view don't you think with those waves coming in -pretty spectacular.
22:46 ambi in the area -23:12 -switch of something with ambi ?
22:54 CJ -OFF MIC -no one here
23:22 CJ -ok, what kind of data do you take down when you find a banded bird
23:24 DB -well, this guys number -well first I am trying to read the band number -and I think it is 2 -6 -9? 9 for sure but I don't know about -0, right or is it a 6? 2-7 -9-6. look he has been fighting. See the marks on -(off mic -bf) -very tip of his bare skin -top of his bare skin at the top of his bill?
24:09 DB -some blood there. So he has been fighting w/somebody. Look at how thick his bill is -so you know it is a male. And bc of his number is 276. he was banded as a chick in 1988/1989 -1989. so that means he is like 12 years old.
CJ -and he keeps coming back bc he -you don't know where he was banded ¿
DB -no, not from looking here -I would have to look in the computer -but yeah. We can eventual tell where the heck he was banded too..
24:48 DB - you can see he is in a bush nest. It is not a great nest. It is what we call - it is a bush so we call it a 2 -it is kind of an average nest -not great, but could be worse. And he doesn't have a mate, of course, and we always give the date, and we tell kinda where it is so we can find it -I am going to see if we have some flagging so I can flag it, and then I want your left flipper counts. So how many flippers did you ??
DB -what do we have with Jess, do we know?
CJ -what is your flipper count?
25:37 DB -ok, now the other things -lets just look -looks like it is probably just blood on the flipper, but I want to see by looking in the front.
25:49 -ambi in area
25:58 DB -yeah, he has just had a little fight. But notice the other thing -the nests -see the other holes here?
CJ -just outside the nests there are some holes.
DB -yes. And those are armadillo holes. So an armadillo has also been nesting in here, and he has got his holes in here, and the penguin has prob taken advantage and he prob dug out a little bit of that and it made it easier for the penguin to dig. So he is pretty settled in this nest, so he has prob been here for a number of years 26:29 ok, so we know he is from 1988 and 89. and that is also interesting, bc when we go through the colony like we have been to look for these birds, we find a lot from these 88, 89 and also from 88, 90. but we haven't found -I think we have found one bird from 90, and 91 -that we banded in 90, 91.
CJ - That you banded in 90, 91.
DB -yeah. Even though we banded the same number every year.
CJ - Oh look he is getting away there -is that ok?
DB - Yeah that is ok, he is just isn't that sure he wants to settle here. In particular bc he hasn't seen us in about 12 years. 27:03 and he is trying to figure out where he really wants to be, in particular since he has been fighting. 27:09
27:13 CJ -so that might suggest -you haven't seen anyone from that -that - what would you call it? That year -that vintage -they had a bad year maybe?
DB -yeah. For whatever reason, they certainly did not survive at sea, but other years they come back -but other years they come back. So in that sense, penguins are a lot like fish. There seems to be windows of opportunity, and when they get the right year, almost everyone that fledges survives to the next year, and there are other years that it doesn't matter you can pore out thousands and thousands of individuals, and almost none of them tend to survive. Once these guys get to be adults though, the survival rate is really high. So over 90% of them are surviving from year to year. They don't have very many predators at sea. I mean occasionally they will get eaten by a these southern seal lions, or by orcas, or something like that but it is really pretty rare. So, very high survival once they get to be adults, but boy as chicks it seems like we band and band into a black hole and almost nobody seems to come back and occasional we see these years where at least you do find somebody. So these guys....the closest he could have been banded -we don't band up here -we band way down there -so oh, about a half a kilometer from where we are would be the closest that he could have been banded 28:27
CJ -ok, so should I zero out here?
28:33 CJ -start all over again. my fingers aren't working too well anymore
28:37 DB - that is fine. I am just happy to have one. This made the day worthwhile. You know it is like finding needles in haystacks. You know really. You band so many birds, but to find them again is really tough. It is like Easter egg hunting. You have to hunt all over, and when you find one I mean it really can tell us the history of the bird and looking at them -then we can tell if they are males or females, and of course when they are chicks they are even harder to distinguish what their sex is. So by finding them now we can tell what their sex was when they were little and we get an idea of what are the ones that survive, and is it really the males that are surviving and we have higher mortality rates for females. Or what?
CJ -well, let's go find him again and we will have a double. 29:20
29:21 walking around -talking off mic in bg
29:55 - 30:01 ambi in area
30:26 DB -I will take that back from you -
CJ -ok, what are doing here- you have to look down in that hole - 30:30 -he is down in a hole, right?
30:31 DB - he is certainly down in a hole. This is a really good nest site, bc you can see it is a pretty deep hole, and there is a bird in there, and his number is 21940. ok, so we are pretty close to the area that is called the Vista. Again it is a male, and 21940 -up! He was banded in 86, 87, but he is not known age. But -so he was already an adult when we banded him in 86, 87. see he is btwn these number series, so prob we banded him in actually 87 bc he is a pretty high number. Almost 22, 000 -so that still makes him a pretty old bird -so he prob 15 to 18. He could even be older than that. Now, his band is open, just a little bit -about a millimeter -see -so we are going to take him out and fix his band, bc I don't want him to loose his bracelet. These are stainless steel bands and they should last for the life of the bird. We make sure they are closed tight bc we don't want them to catch on anything -at the same time we do want them if they do catch on anything, to come off -not hurt the bird. That is why we want to make sure it is tightened up a little bit, even though he couldn't loose it- with that small opening, it is still not good to have an opening on it. 32:02
CJ- so how are you going to get him out of it?
32:04 DB- I am going to take this gauncho as we call it, and hook it around his leg and pull him out so that he will want to continue to go back in the burrow, and so that I can grab a hold of him -so it is kind of like a giant a little person
CJ -a little putian
32:23 DB -so he is not going to be completely happy about it, but ah, it won't hurt him or anything and it will take us just a brief period of time to weigh him and measure him and put him back in.
CJ -ok -let me know if you need any help
DB -ok in this case I am going to just ask you to -I guess I wil have to show you how to close the band -actually what I will do is have you hold him -bc then I can do it a little quicker. So we can take out the banding pliers 32:50
32:51 taking out pliers
CJ - ok, I take it I should hold it around the bill?
33:05 DB -I am going to show you how to hold him - no, you should hold it at the back of the head. Very high up on its head
CJ -you grab him by the feet there. Oh, he comes out pretty easy.
DB -he comes out pretty easy.
33:22 penguin calls out!
33:27 DB - So what I would like you to do it hold him up on the back of his head -but you have to hold him up high on his head, and he is really strong.
CJ -ok , I have him
DB -you think you have him?
CJ -yeah, I have him
33:38 DB -bc I have to get a hold of this band a little bit.
33:43 -penguin -you can hear it breathing!
33:46 CJ -he seems pretty calm
33:48 DB -ok, now
CJ -taking a bite at the microphone!
33:49 DB -ok, now I have got him -and I am going to walk him back in his nest. There he goes.
CJ -that was quick.
33:57 DB -and he is done.
34:00 ambi -strong wind.
CJ -you ok fella?
DB- yup! 5. that is the other reason why it is good to take them out. I thought it was 219, but it is 215. so, in fact, he is known age. 215. we banded him as a chick in 86.
34:36 CJ -so he is 16, 17 years old.
34:38 CJ -he is pretty strong.
34:41 DB -yeah. And the amazing thing is he looks just as good as a one or 2 year old. Almost in that sense they are ageless. Any penguin that survives looks just as good as a young bird -which we did as well!
CJ -oh, I think you aredoing just as well! (laughter)
34:58 good zipper -taking stuff out of bag -lots of wind
35:12 CJ -restart the clickers?
35:14 DB -yeah. Well, actually no. bc now you are going to get birds all the time. You see now these birds -we are coming right down into the canyada. I would like to know if you get any banded birds -but you see that bush with the blue and the red -all of our known-age birds are right through here -so let's go up over this hill bc we don't search that area quite as much, but I know that if I walked you down here you would find birds.
Cj - OK
DB - So I will walk you over the hill and then down
35;44 ambi -lots o wind -good wind
36:05 DB -just want to make sure I didn't leave my clicker
36:15 more wind -some footsteps
36:33 Flawn -describing what we are doing
37:00 DB -28297 -another male. And another one from 88, 89. that is a 2 isn't it? Yup -it has algae all over it so it is hard to read. Yup. 28297. ok, so we are about -I have to look for the nearest nest so I can get directions and I think the nearest nest is going to be down in that canyada so, how abut you stand here for a second and I will go get directions
mic handling noise
38;33 -39:29 good wind
39:30 -CJ -look, I (she?)found another one
39:57 DB -ok, so I have a survey stake -so he is about 35 meters south east of that survey stake. Which is 3 south south east -so we know where that is so we can come back to him, and I am just going to put a little tag on him -on his bush, and if he is here next year these little tags help us to know to pay a lot of attention to this nests, bc he is likely to be here and if we don't find him, then what we do is we search around this nest bc he likely to be w/in 5 meters of it. So again, he is a bird from 88, 89, banded as a chick.
40:36 CJ -and he will come back next year and manage to find his way back to if not to this nest then to something really close to it. How do they know? How do they know to find their way back to the exact same site?
DB -I think that it is really interesting. We don't know that. We would like to know what kind of map they use -there have been some studies w/penguins that have showed that they certainly pay attention to the sun, so they can use the sun as a compass, but still what is the map/ 41:00 I have watched some of these birds come back for the first time in September -walk up the beach, walk directly to their nest of 2 years before and then spend a little time there, and then walk right over to the nest that they used last year. So it is like they know where all of these nests are, but how they do that we don't really know. I mean there is so much that we really don't understand about penguins let alone other organisms, but how they navigate we know they must use magnetic fields to some extent -but we still really don't know what the map it. 41:33
CJ - Bc they have to and then navigate in the ocean and navigate on land as well
DB - Right. And they are short -so they can't see! Like we can quite a long distance. I mean how do they do it being so shrot looking among these bushes -but I guess new Yorkers find their way around! So they have got their own GPS somewhere, with their own map 41:55
41:56 tying on the ribbon to the tree
42:06 DB - the reason I tie such short ones -little short flagging like this, is number one, you know litter the place with colored markers, but also bc the sheep and the guanacos like to eat them -if you leave them long they come and eat them, and if you leave them too low against the ground then penguins collect them and put them in their nest site as nesting material -so this is how come we put them kinda high so we can see them, and short enough that sheep won't eat them.
CJ - And the number that you put on them coincides with
42:37 talking off mic
42:48 -43:53 ambi in area -very windy with faint talking in bg -walking
43:54 CJ -(off mic a bit) you want me to zero out?
DB -yup -you have to start again.
44:01-48:19 ambi -walking, wind -so good gusts in here -
45:39 -off mic -way off mic -DB -another sheep skull for you!
48:20 DB (OFF MIC!) -did you see it>??? Hairy armidillo!
Talk off mic of the armidillo -
48:49 DB -but I lost him -
CJ -here's one -here is a banded -
DB- but yeah, you see that he is flagged -so for example -it should, if this is correct -you see -here 47485, and that should be who it is, and it is, and so he is known age. And it prob doesn't say here from which year, but we could look it up -47485. he is young. At least relatively young. He was banded is 93 -so he is only 10! ( laughter) 49:43
49:44 ambi in area -wind -some walking, some talking very off mic (50:33 Jess talking)
50:52 opps -careful here! It is very rare (CJ -oh it's a snake!) that you see a snake like this -this is one of the poisonous ones actually -this is a -2 of them my gosh! TWO! They are copulating, aren't they? They are attached!
CJ -that one is backing away from us -I have never seen a snake back away!
DB -well, it is attached to the other one! They were copulating! Those are the generas here -they are little, very docile, but highly venomous snake, you can see the triangles on him
CJ -it is related to the bothrox
DB -yes! It is a bothrox and ah -
CJ -related to the rattle snake!
DB -yeah and what is really amazing is that you have gotten to see one. Do you know that I have spent 20 years here and I have seen one other one and we just saw 2 copulating! I have -in my view -a proclivity for seeing snakes -I am not exactly found of them though I realize they have an important role to play in the world -but I don't know why -but I get to see a lot of snakes -I guess bc I am not crazy about them! 52:01
CJ -I tend to see a lot myself...Samerica....
52:11 DB -but we have seen very few snakes here.....actually Rebecca caught one early, and I have seen one 15 years ago -but I have never seen them copulating like that! I thought it was an awfully long snake -that was amazing!
CJ - Not terribly thick or big
52:38 DB - No -but they are highly venomous but fortunately they are really docile, so you would almost have to step on one to be harmed by them -but you can see they really get into these bushes -and that is where I have mostly seen them -I have seen coral snakes too -when I am working on the penguins and just getting into these bushes -sometimes you will see them moving out -I haven't but and I guess sometimes they do kinda coil around -and they are so cyptic that you might miss them -but that's -you guys are really lucky!
CJ -ha ha
53;12 DB -ok, so we were reading that penguin band number before we were so rudely interrupted by those snakes! Where did he go? Ok, he went into his nest -I don't blame him, I would too!
Ok, 0756. so he isn't known age, but he would have been banded a long time ago. I want to read it one more time to just make sure -07756. ok, are you a male or a female? She is another male!
CJ -I think I will be a little more careful about where I step now, however.
54:00 DB -yeah! Ok, so this guy would have been banded in 84, 85. as an adult
54;08 -BIG gust of wind -and CJ - WHOA!
54:12 DB - So likely this guy is well over 20 years of age.
CJ -17 from my count
DB -17? Now let's just see if it is the same number on that little tag if you can read it (very windy) 54;40 yup! 7756 -so last year or the year before that -so last year, or the year before that -looks like it is a 2 year old tag to me -he was in that same nest. 55;06
55;07 ambi -good strong, wind, some talking in bg
55:28 Jess talking -tail to tail! (talk about snake)
DB -it was the biggest one I had ever heard of -that was why I couldn't believe it -and then of course when you realize it is 2 of them, it makes better sense 56:02
FW -either that or we discovered the push me pull you!
DB -or a 2 headed snake -since I saw heads on both ends!
56:23 Ambi -walking in dirt
DB - Ok, so he is working on his burrow -see all that dirt? (a little off mic) see all of that dirt? You can see that some of it is recent around here -so he has been busy digging it out, and they dig it out with their feet. The thing that is amazing about these little guys is that they plant their bill in the ground and then they dig with their feet. So they hold themselves steady with that bill. And I have actually seen them upside down with their bill planted in the roof of their nest and then digging on the roof with their feet. And they need to have enough soil to be able to make it -and it turns out they need to have at least 21 centimeters of soil so whatever that is -2 feet -if the soil is shallower than that they can't actually dig the burrow deep and it collapses on them so they have to have quite a bit of soil. And you can...
FW-That's like 8 inches
They discuss how many centimeters
57:55 CR-That's what they need above, so it's like it needs to be at least 8 in. thick.
DB-Underneath so they can have that thick of a roof. Cause otherwise it will collapse on them. And you can see here there's some gravel but there's an awful lot of silt and clay so it's not too hard cause there's some gravel and sand in it and that give it the cohesion it needs. So they've gotta have the right things and nevertheless you can see he's really using the roof over the top. And that's why it's pretty dangerous to be in some of these burrows because if it rains it's much more likely to collapse on top of them and in fact we've actually dug out penguins. And I've found penguins that after the rain had been the burrow had collapsed on him after the rain.
In one case I'd dug him out and needless to say he was really stiff, I mean just like you can imagine, hardly able to kind of move, all contorted. Carried him down to the ocean, threw him in, and he kind of wiggled around and after five minutes of swimming and bathing, swam away. I thought boy of someone left me for two days like that, I wouldn't be able to recover that quickly.
Ambi. wind, some walking on pebbles
Ambi. wind, CJ/DB talking in background
Ambi. wind, walking, talking
Ambi. moving equipment/machinery, wind, talking
Ambi. wind, talking
CJ I just want to roll as we go into the house, keep rolling.
Ambi. wind, walking
DB It's nice to get out of the wind.
FX door slams
CJ Oh, that was terrific, bracing.
DB But isn't it incredible, just kind of titillates all your senses, I mean there's so much to do and see and feel.
CJ Well, I can safely say that's more penguins than I've ever seen in one place. More penguins than I've ever seen anywhere.
DB Well that's good, I'd hate to think that's there's a place that's even better than this. I haven't seen it anyway.
CJ How about some tea?
Ambi. moving around, talking
FX Door slams
CJ talking to FW
FW Ok, back inside after the Sat. afternoon walk.
JG Dee, that was great.
CJ Yeah, thanks a lot, we're not rolling.
All talking at once
DB Now I'm going to do a necropsy on him.
CJ Where are you going to do that?
DB Out in the back in our fine laboratories.
CJ Can we record while you do that?
DB Sure, I don't know if people would be grossed out.
FW Not me.
DB I'd be happy to have you see that.
CJ That's good. Believe it or not in Buenos Aires I spent five weeks digging up bodies in...
DB That's right, that's why you should do the necropsy Chris.
CJ Well these were bones that's why I like bones, all these bodies had been in the ground for ten years, so they were all nice pretty white bone. But we did go to the morgue pretty often, have you ever been to the morgue in BA?
CJ It's this 19th century...
FX something drops
CJ...Looks like a combination bw a prison and a castle, it's out of some kind of...movie
DB Did you go to the museum, the museum is like left from 1920 as well. I mean you go in there and the smell...you smell mothballs and its just like, wow, this is what museums used to be like. Bc that's where most of my stuff ends up...
DB Ok so what we have left to do today, I'm just going to do this necropsy. And then I have to go out and check these nests, but I don't have to do that until later.
Ambi. setting up necropsy, talking
DB Ok, so you're going to put the tea on? I'm going to run out and use the bathroom and then I'll get my necropsy stuff.
FW I'll be out back waiting for you.
DB Good, I'm glad you're not gonna come with that into the restroom. That's a great relief Flawn (laughing)
Ambi. moving around, talking, wind
Ambi. windmill, wind
FW Also outside, this is still outside the station, and now we'll put the windmill off the side.
Ambi. wind, Spanish speaking family, kids talking about penguin flippers, they think the generator is a washing machine
Ambi. strong wind, talking in background, walking
FX door opens
DB talking about garden, tomatoes
JG You know I always wonder, we get so many imported things in the US, from Chile, from Guatemala, from Peru...I mean you've got to wonder. When I was living in the middle east you get all this...
DB But you know supposed to eat locally...
JG I know, yeah, but in the middle east, the water is.. there's now way, I mean all these..
FW Ok ,going out for the necropsy. This is checking out the dead bird, dead juvenile that we picked up earlier today.
Ambi. talking in background
JG Do you come stocked with food from the US every time you come down here.
DB Yeah, well first of all you can tell I'm a really big nut fan. And I find that since meat is hard to preserve nuts are a really good substitute and all though I'm not a great vegetarian I'm probably close to it in the States, bc I'm not that keen on meat.
FW I eat more nuts than meat.
DB And nuts are supposed to be great for your health anyway. We cook with them...
Talking about breakfast...
JG We did a story about this guy named Lincoln Brower, he does all the...
DB Oh, the monarch butterfly man..
JG Yeah, he does all the..yeah the monarch guy, he's great, and we went down to Mexico..
DB Did you get to see the butterflies in Mexico?
JG Yeah, and every time he goes out to the field...yeah it's amazing. Have you been there?
DB No, I've just been to Monterrey and I thought that was amazing.
JG Oh no, I've been to Monterey too, imagine that like 100 fold, and its amazing.
DB Monterey's beautiful.
JG/DB talking about butterflies in Monterey
JG He takes a bad of milky ways, and gives them to all the Mexican people who work with him
DB Ok, so
DB Ok Jess, this is what I would like you to do. This is gonna be length, this is gonna be bill length and this is gonna be bill depth. And this is gonna be the flipper and the foot. And so we're just gonna put the numbers on those and we'll go out and measure it, I don't need this..
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DB Oh, this is gonna be a problem for you, there's a generator.
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DB A little further?
DB/CJ Talking about lab table
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DB Is this ok?
FW well, I don't know if we're gonna get much better than this, so...
Talking about where to do it
CJ Just sort of give a running commentary if you would of what you're doing?
DB Ok, I'm still gonna weigh this guy...4.52...
DB Kilograms...uhoh, I lost the scalpel coming out, I'll have to retrace
JG I'll walk back and look.
DB If you can, but before you do that let me at least give you this measurements. I've got another one, it must have fallen out, maybe when I bent down to pick up the tape. Ok so the bill length is 5.34 and the bill depth is 1.92 that makes it a female, we think. And that's why I want to open it up and look. The flipper 14.6 and the foot 11.2, one of the things that you might notice, it's really pretty interesting, is how penguins capture their pray. I mean you can see that this bill is really hooked, the top mandible has almost got like a claw on it, like a really hard nail. And of course this is for catching fish. And notice how it fits in that groove of the bottom mandible so it fits really perfectly. And if you look at the inside of the mouth it has all of these projections that go backwards, and that's to hold the fish.
And those are called denticles, and they've got these denticles on the tongue as well as on the roof of the mouth, the pallet, basically they go backwards bc a fish, if they catch a fish it would be very hard for it to get out bc it's like spines holding it in so that they can swallow it down. And they do all of the swallowing of their pray, at least almost always, under water. I mean very very rarely do you ever see a penguin swallowing a fish on the surface. And they're mostly eating of course small schooling fish. The only time I've ever seen a penguin eating a fish on the surface of the water was a Galapagos penguin eating a damsel fish, and damsel fish are really wide, so he had trouble manipulating it so he had to manipulate it on the surface, but cormorants you see them always eating their fish above the surface of the water.
But anyway, that's what makes penguins kind of unusual, are all these denticles. And you see this guy is getting ready to moult. He's really brown, the feathers are kind of tattered, and I think now what we're going to have to do is find the scalpel. So we can, oh here it is, oh poor Chris.
Ok, now this is the brude patch, this is an area, even though the juvenile has never bread, there's an area, a little line that goes down the center of the lower abdomen that gets defeathered, so that they can put the skin directly against the egg or the chick to keep them warm. But you can see that this juvenile is really well feathered even though he's getting ready for the moult he's new feathers haven't started to grow yet and he hasn't quite gotten rid of this.
But look at how fat he is, look at all the fat underneath the skin, I mean that's, you know you can see the new feathers under there, but that's all fat, so...skin's just loaded, so he's what a half an inch of fat underneath...
DB Everywhere, so this guy had no problem in terms of keeping warm, look at the far around the intestines, I mean big globules, so he was plenty healthy in terms of weight.
CJ And that's what he lives on as he goes out to forage, or as he moults?
DB Well he, this is like his you know wetsuit, so any time he goes swimming he's got a nice layer of fat, and he's got the feathers on top, so that's why they never get cold really in the water. So they've got fat, then they've got the down, then the feathers, over the down so that their skin never gets wet. So they're really warm in the water. But bc he's getting ready to moult he puts on a whole bunch of extra weight so this fat layer even gets thicker and thicker and thicker so what he's going to do is live off of that fat.
So when he stands around for three weeks, he's gotta have enough fat to be able to live for three weeks without eating. He'll drink, cause he'll drink sea water and get rid of the salt. But he's gotta live on the fat. But he weighs over 4 and a half kilos, so that's plenty. Bc a female like this that's an extra kilo at least, and in fact they can get as low as 2.5, so plenty of fat. In fact we've had small females, and she's not particularly small, but small females can get down to about 2.2, 2.3 kilos and still survive, I mean that's kind of rock bottom basic. But at the end of the moult they should be more than about 2.5 kilos really, bc that gives them a little extra security to go out and find fish. Bc of course when they leave, they've got no fat, they've digested part of the muscle in their breast bone to survive on, and they've got new feathers, but without a layer of fat they're gonna be cold.
So they've got to put on that layer of fat again pretty quickly. So they've got to be pretty good foragers...ok so anyway, no problem with the fat. All right, now, if we get through all this fat.. that shows you, that's some bile coming out so that means that already she started starving. This is the stomach that I'm opening up here...and hence the bile...and you can see shell, there's a shell that she actually has, there are a couple of shells in here. But that's a nematode, see that round worm...
CJ So that's a parasitic worm?
DB That's a parasitic worm, yup, see that round worm that's inside the stomach. And most birds actually have parasites in them, of course not too surprising bc they live on fish. So, and fish have a lot of parasite, look at this has got about ten or so...
CJ They're good size nematodes, they're pretty big..
DB Yes, and yeah look at that, that's like what an inch and a half long...
(DB counting nematodes)
DB So at least five nematodes, oh here's another one. Ok, 6, look it's even in, see how it's attached to the stomach? But of course these nematodes have to starve for three weeks too, so that often gets rid of some of the nematodes. Bc they cant exist for a long period of time without any food either. But you see a lot of mucas covering the stomach. Some lesions here, probably from the nematodes.
CJ Can they die from that parasitic infestation?
DB No, but the interesting thing is when birds are oiled or something like that that compromises their immune system, then the number of nematodes in them goes up. But this has got fine lining of the stomach. There's nothing that's particularly out of the ordinary there.
CJ Is this muscle?
DB This, yeah, that's all muscle, that's the breast muscle, and this...
CJ And that's what drives the flippers?
DB Yeah, remember the kield sternum that you saw from the dead penguin? There's the keel here close to the muscle, so that's probably a half an inch or an inch, close to an inch, three quarters anyway, of an inch thick, and you can see how dark that meat is so it's not like a turkey breast or a chicken breast, and that's bc it's got to be engorged with blood and that's bc it's got to drive these flippers.
DB So, would you write that we've got 6 round worms, and two little lesions...and this probably is some sort of, another parasite, see here, it's almost like a...looks like a cyst almost or something. Probably some sort of encysting parasite there. But that again that's not enough to kill this guy at all...look at all that fat. Plenty of fat, just everywhere. Ok we'll just look and see, here's the, going back to the kidneys...
CJ And that's well back behind the stomach.
DB Yeah...just looking to see if we can...
CJ And that's the intestine?
DB Yup, those are all the intestines, with all the...it's a female...
CJ You found the ovaries?
DB Yup, you can see the oviduct here, right up here at the top, and I can probably show you some eggs. Unfortunately we've got blood filling that cavity now...you see this right here...
CJ That's a little tiny...
DB Yup, several of them, those are the follicles, the eggs, so that's how come I know it's female. So that just confirms the sex of it. So we know it's a female. And the eggs are all less than about a millimeter in size, see them all there Chris? This whole thing right here.
CJ Yeah, I see it
DB Yeah...so that's a lifetime supply of eggs for her. But again the kidneys are a fine color. The air sacks, see the pink back here? Those are the air sacks of the bird, see how bright pink it is?
CJ That's the equivalent of a lung?
DB The lung, yup...
CJ They're small
DB Well, but they, yes but there's air sacks right here where you'd think the lungs would be, but there are also air sacks down lower in this bird, bc birds have a number of air sacks.
CJ Is that not only for breathing but also for diving and for, or is it just for breathing?
DB Just for breathing, getting the oxygen to blood just like for us. But look at how big the stomach is. This tells you this bird has been eating a lot to put on all this fat. And so you can imagine the shock eating like you're going to Thanksgiving and Christmas everyday for a few weeks, and then suddenly bang cold turkey, and that's what seems to be a time that's pretty high risk for these guys bc we find a fair number of birds that have died just as they're starting the moult.
DB So that's pretty much it, the liver over here on this side and I think it's gonna look fine too.
CJ It's big
CJ The liver is huge, why is it so big?
DB Well this is a pretty big bird
CJ But I mean I'm thinking in terms of other organisms, I mean it's air sacks are much smaller than I would expect, and it's liver is...
DB Yeah, this liver is definitely somewhat enlarged, but again, and there's the heart right above it. There's nothing wrong with the color, yeah, it's enlarge to some extent compared to some of the other birds, but...
DB Yeah, it is definitely enlarged...probably the heart will be somewhat enlarged I would think, let's see... no the heart's all right too...
CJ It's about the size of a...what is the size of that...a very large strawberry. It's shaped like a large strawberry.
DB But the muscle looks fine...nothing particularly unusual about that, don't see any parasites or anything like that...and here's the bile, this also tells you she's fasting. Look at, see how green it is and how elongated it is? That's also a sign of starvation and going through changes in the system bc this gall bladder I guess it is get's awfully enlarge, and I guess that is common when people start fasting too. But the liver is somewhat enlarged. It's a big liver always, but this is bigger than normal, or at least usual. But again look at all the fat in the intestines...so I think it just died bc it was going through the molt. We don't think that that should happen, but it does. Ok I think I'm gonna leave it at that...should I do this...
DB I'm kind of reluctant to, well maybe I will, ok...let's just look a little further and see how long this will take. Bc maybe we can skim this out and give it to the university, to the museum in BA.
CJ What the skelaton?
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DB But this gives you a much better sense of how much muscle. And you think about the early explorers, I mean they couldn't have absolutely lived through Antarctic winters if it hadn't been for penguins and seals. But particularly for emperor penguins, that's what they ate. And they always felt that these penguin stakes were pretty good. I don't think so, I wouldn't want em. But, I guess some people consider them still a delicacy. In peru they eat a lot of them, and people often wonder if penguins have knees, and you can see that they do have knees, they're just covered by their skin.
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DB She is just so fat
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DB They're kidneys are quite different from ours they have three lobes on them.
CJ And where's the organ that takes the salt out of the water.
DB Well, I've got to go up to the head to see that. But I can show you and I will in just a second, preem gland that keeps their feathers so nicely oiled and dark.
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CJ Presumably the birds will come and make quick work of this.
DB Oh yeah, well there's not only the birds that are gonna be interested in this. It's gonna be the armadillo as well. He'll be pretty excited...
CJ Now what do armadillos eat normally?
DB Oh they're scavengers but here they feed a lot during the summer months on penguin eggs, or any chicks that have died. They normally eat roots, so they spend a lot of time digging up roots. That's why you see a lot of holes around in the ground bc that's where the armadillos have been looking for things to eat. But if we leave this carcass out it will be mostly I bet armadillos that will eat it...or the fox.
JG There're also vultures too.
DB Yeah the chimangos they'll come here and eat it.
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DB Ok look at the fat on the neck. And of course having fat on your neck is good for a number of reasons for these penguins bc you've seen some of these fights today, and having a lot of fat on the back of your neck can certainly protect you when somebody grabs you from behind or in the front and tries to bite you. So it's pretty important but look at how much muscle they also have in their neck.
CJ That's the power behind their weapon in their hunting...
DB Oh yeah, it just has always reminded me of those thick necks in football players, you know?
CJ Ohio state
DB Yup, look at that, see look at all the muscle back there controlling their bill.
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JG Chris didn't see the inside of the mouth. The tongue...
DB These are these denticles, you see look at this weapon here with the hook on the edge of the bill and how it perfectly fits into the lower mandible. And these are the denticles almost like spines to hold the fish. And see how they all slant backwards?
DB This is the windpipe next to the esophagus. And you can see how its very cartilaginous, it's got all these rings. So it can breath..ok so now we're gonna go for the oil gland. Let me see if I can get this out without...getting covered here.
CJ I get the feeling you've done this before.
DB Yeah, a few too many times I guess.
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DB But I guess if some penguins didn't die it'd be penguins all the way down wouldn't it. So all of them cant live unfortunately. So this will just make food for the armadillos and the other wildlife that's here. Ok now we're coming to the oil gland, the base of the tail. Again look at all that fat...fat all the way down the back like that
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DB This is again the flipper, I'm just trying to remove it from the skin.
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DB Ok, now..ok see this white gland here and there's another one here. This is the oil gland so this is how the bird keeps those feathers nice and dark. And you can see I cut one here partly and here's the other one. Now I want you to notice, ok so, I'm taking the little scalpel in here scraping out some of this white material that looks like oil. Now look at how brown the feathers are, well, brown on the flipper here, but let's even look on the back. See how brown that is?
CJ Oh that darkens the feathers
DB Yeah, so what happens when they go into the molt. They don't use their oil gland on these feathers that they're going to lose anyway. So people for a number of years, and I think it's still in the literature, bc I don't think anyones ever done this and I certainly haven't published it, but they thought that they got bleached in the sun. and that the feathers became of poor quality, which we know they do, but that the bleaching of that sun was why they lost their color. But here you can see it's bc they haven't kept them in good condition and they haven't bothered to oil them. But of course, why would you bother to if you're gonna lose them anyway you don't need to keep them in good condition. You might as well save that precious oil cause that's not gonna be cheap to make to put on your new feathers. So that's why they get so white. See how it's almost white here?
CJ Just before they molt.
DB yeah, and look how dark, just by putting that oil there, that I made it.
CJ That's amazing.
DB Ok, so we're gonna leave this out here for the aramadillo to eat, and I'm gonna put the rest of him...
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DB Want to feel how heavy the skin is? This is just the skin in the oil, let's see if there's a good clean place for you to hold on. Or how can I get...here how bout you just pinch that just try to hold that just so you can get an idea.
CJ Wow, that is heavy, yeah, that feels like it's 8 or 9 pounds.
DB Well not quite all of him but it's most of him. That just shows you how heavy a protective coat they really have to keep them warm in the water...ok he's gonna go up here to dry out so he can go to the museum. And be a skeleton...thank you.
CJ That wont get carted off by a bird?
DB It's pretty heavy, so no I don't think so. Usually I put them in the top of these um prickly bushes like that bc nobody bothers them. Armadillos cant climb up in them and it's too heavy for a gull or anybody to really remove, so it seems to work pretty well.
CJ Do you wanna bring these boards back?
DB Let's leave them bc I'll come again, yeah let's take that one...then it'll be ready for next time.
FW Ok, this is roomtone for the necropsy, out north of the station buildings.
FW Ok, now I'm gonna face the same location but facing the mike back towards the generator
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FW Ok now walking back in from the necro. Site toward the generator back to the buildings
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FX shuffling in brush
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FW music from next door
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CJ We need some...