Sunday, December 18, 2011

Vultures of the Sea

Northern Giant Petrel in Flight, Drake Passage
As big as an albatross, and a close relative, the giant petrel has been a constant companion on our voyage back from Antarctica. Giant Petrels are polar scavengers, eating the carcasses of  seals, whales and anything they might find at sea or on land. They can also be predators of penguin chicks and eggs.

Following the ship as we plow through the swells, petrels like these can soar effortlessly for hours, if not days, in the strong wind. This bird flew right along the ship at eye level, apparently curious, and I was able to get this portrait as he passed by the bridge wing. I used a flash to give him a little extra color in the gloomy light, and used a slightly slow shutter speed to give the background a silky motion.

With two long days at sea back to Ushuaia, photographing the world's greatest flying birds is an enjoyable distraction.

Nikon D3, 70-200mm lens


  1. Beautiful image Kevin. Well balanced the shutter with the speed of the giant petrel and that fill-in flash just gave the spark the image needed.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks Marcos. It's a low-percentage, take-a-load-of-pictures, kind of shot. Nice when it works, though. Have a great holiday.