Giant Petrels Are a Bellwether Species for the Antarctic
Giant Petrels are large scavenger birds that feed on dead seals, whales, penguins, squid or just about any other creature that dies on Antarctica's Southern Ocean, which is why 19th Century sailors called them "Bone Shakers.
I think Giant Petrels rule the Earth; they're fantastic," she says, climbing out of a black rubber Zodiac and moving past huge burbling elephant seals and squawking Adelie penguins on Humble Island, Antarctica.
Patterson, who has a bright but determined attitude and a sun-reddened face, has spent the last 10 years working "on the ice," the last seven in the company of Giant Petrels.
Northern Giant Petrels are more concealed, solitary nesters found in the tussock grass of sub-Antarctic islands.
As many as 100,000 Antarctic seabirds, mainly Albatrosses, but also Giant Petrels, are now thought to be dying every year in encounters with longline fishing fleets that have expanded their operations into the Southern Ocean.
This warming trend could affect Giant Petrels in that we're seeing more elephant seals moving south.
Four Giant Petrels have now been equipped with tiny transmitters.