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  • endangered species day

    Today is Endangered Species Day and African wild dogs are among many species that are threatened in their natural habitat.

    They are highly social carnivores, hunt in packs and let the young feed first. Previously roaming the savanna in large numbers, their population is dwindling. One of the reasons is due to their continuous conflict with humans for killing their livestock.

  • happy earth day

    Polar bears are one of the species that are most affected by climate change. They can swim but not as good as their prey. Polar bears need sea ice to hunt and disappearing ice in the Arctic is of great concern.

    The human race have the ability to change the world and I don't think it's too late.

    Happy Earth Day 2017!

  • King of the South

    เกาะเซาท์จอร์เจียเป็นบ้านหลังใหญ่ของเพนกวินราชานับแสนคู่ เสียงร้องกึกก้องของมันอบอวลทั่วทั้งหาดเมื่อเราเดินทางไปถึง เป็นบรรยากาศที่ยากจะลืม

    แม้ว่าพวกมันมีขนาดใหญ่เพียงอันดับสอง แต่เรื่องราวของพวกมันนั้นแตกต่างและน่าสนใจไม่เป็นรองใคร ด้วยระยะเวลาสืบพันธุ์ที่ยาวนานกว่า 14-16 เดือน และลูกเกิดใหม่ต้องพึ่งพาพ่อแม่จนอายุประมาณ 1 ปี เราจึงเห็นเพนกวินราชาทุกช่วงชีวิตอาศัยอยู่ในอาณานิคม

    การสืบพันธุ์ของเพนกวินราชาเริ่มต้นขึ้นเมื่อพวกมันเดินทางกลับขึ้นฝั่งเพื่อผลัดขน และออกเดินทางอีกครั้งเพื่อสะสมพลังงานสำหรับช่วงฤดูกาลหาคู่ที่กำลังมาถึง เพนกวินราชาสร้างครอบครัวโดยปราศจากรัง ทั้งตัวผู้และตัวเมียผลัดกันกกไข่เพียง 1 ใบบนขาทั้งสองข้างด้วยความระมัดระวังภายใต้สภาพอากาศสุดขั้ว ในขณะที่อีกตัวออกเดินทางอันยาวไกล ดำดิ่งสู่ก้นมหาสมุทรเพื่อหาอาหาร

    เมื่อลูกเพนกวินขนสีน้ำตาลเริ่มโตพอ ลูกๆ ต่างครอบครัวจะอยู่รวมกลุ่มกันคล้ายสถานอนุบาล โดยมีผู้ใหญ่คอยดูแลปกป้องในระหว่างที่ทั้งพ่อและแม่ของเด็กๆ ออกหาอาหาร ภายในชุมชนที่แน่นขนัดไปด้วยเพนกวินราชาวัยอ่อน พ่อแม่และลูกกลับมาเจอกันที่จุดนัดพบด้วยเสียงเรียกที่คุ้นเคย

    เพนกวินราชาบนเกาะเซาท์จอร์เจียคุ้นเคยกับการมาเยือนของนักท่องเที่ยวที่เดินทางมายังอาณานิคมในแต่ละปี

    เพนกวินราชาอดอาหารประมาณ 1 เดือนในช่วงระยะพลัดขน

    เพื่อเปลี่ยนเป็นชุดกันน้ำสำหรับออกหาอาหารก่อนหาคู่

    อาณานิคมบนที่ราบซอลส์บรีของเกาะเซาท์จอร์เจีย

    เต็มไปด้วยเพนกวินราชาทุกเพศทุกวัยที่ปกคลุมหาดไกลสุดสายตา

    หิมะโปรปรายต้อนรับการกลับมาของพ่อแม่เพนกวินราชา

    ที่ออกเดินทางหาอาหารในมหาสมุทรนานนับสัปดาห์

    การตามหากันและกันที่เหมือนงมเข็มในมหาสมุทรเป็นไปได้

    ด้วยเสียงเรียกเฉพาะของแต่ละครอบครัว

    พ่อแม่กินอาหารจำพวกปลาขนาดเล็กและปลาหมึก ย่อยมันเล็กน้อย

    เพื่อป้อนโดยการสำรอกใส่ปากลูกที่หิวโหย

    อันตรายที่เกิดขึ้นกับพ่อแม่ส่งผลกระทบกับลูกวัยอ่อนโดยตรง

    เพราะมันต้องพึ่งพาอาศัยพ่อแม่ในการมีชีวิตรอด

    นกสกัวคือนักล่าที่หากินอยู่ภายในสถานอนุบาล

    พวกมันคอยซุ่มขโมยไข่ และโจมตีลูกเพนกวินราชาวัยอ่อน

    ลูกอ่อนที่สมบูรณ์สามารถอดอาหารได้นานกว่า 3-5 เดือน

    หลังจากนั้นมันต้องได้รับอาหารโดยด่วนเพื่อมีชีวิตรอด

    เพนกวินราชาที่รอดชีวิตจะกลับมาบ้านที่มันเกิดในอาณานิคมแห่งนี้อีกครั้ง

    เพื่อดำรงเผ่าพันธุ์สืบไป

  • first glimpse of B4

    It was Day 3 and we had spotted 3 polar bears so far. One a day is pretty good. After drifting away from the iceberg that B3 was on, we heard Adam speaking Swedish on the radio. Apparently while the crew were securing the ship onto the ice, there was a bear swimming in the water near the ship. 

    We watched her swim from the ship and go around to our right to the iceberg with the carcass where the male bear B3 was guarding it. We kept our distance from her as we didn’t want to approach a swimming bear by a zodiac for safety. She swam from left to right towards that iceberg. 

    She finally landed on one of the icebergs nearby on the left side. Also she did what polar bears do best, rolling on her back for good scratch after shaking water off her fur. After a good rub on the ice, she really looked at us while that male was still sleeping. 

    Seeing her on the iceberg gave us an opportunity to sex her. She was a healthy female. She had a scar on the left side of her hips. It wasn’t long until she decided to take off. I wasn’t sure why she swam away so quickly as she seemed to be quite relaxed. My best assumption is that there were too many things going on at that moment. She may want to feed on the carcass but B3 was on it and on top of that there was us, a big floating thing in the water. Off she went, going about in her element. We left her alone and went back to the ship. It was about quarter to 7 in the evening. We were all pretty excited from the experiences and of course a bit tired from a restless day so far.

  • king of the Arctic

    I heard “polar bear on the ice!”. I quickly dressed up and headed upstairs. Then I heard “zodiac! dry bag!” from Janet. She and Magnus spotted the bear from the bridge. The bear was on an iceberg with his kill. Off we went, cruising and drifting among the ice floe in hope of not driving the bear off the ice. 

    B3 was a big male with scars, rough life I think. His face was painted with fresh blood after feeding on a dead seal. He was resting on the ice near his food. Once he smelt us, he raised his head and then rolled on his back for a good rub. Finally he sat up to have a really good look at us. He did not seem to be bothered about us being there at all. He walked to the carcass and later on he marched to the edge of the iceberg and posed for us. We were so close to him. Too bad I did not think of using my wide angle as I was too excited about everything that had been going on. I wish I took my eyes off the viewfinder and really looked at him, the king of the Arctic.

  • the bear colin spotted

    It was a quarter to 8 when I decided to get up. I was contemplating for a little while whether I would go take a shower now before breakfast or just go out and see the situation outside. Still being indecisive, I went to the toilet and half way through I heard Adam knocking on the door saying we spotted a polar bear then half a second later Colin came into the room and said he was the one who spotted the bear.

    I quickly layered myself with a fleece and down jackets and headed upstairs to gear up. I didn’t even have time to brush my teeth. Never mind I thought, my face would be covered by windstopper buff anyway. I didn’t know which direction the bear was coming toward the ship but once I stepped outside, he was right there close enough for me to see him with my own eyes. He was marching toward us, sniffing the air to sense what’s going on around him and finally he laid down. He was yawning a lot and Adam later said that it was a sign of being unsure. He wasn’t so sure about what we were which made him a bit edgy.

    The air was cold this morning. It was bright but cloudy. It was completely white everywhere I looked. What a tough terrain the polar bears are in. They are the top predators in this harsh environment. It was truly privilege to see them in the wild.

    Colin was on the top deck and he finally came down as the bear was still resting in the distance. He was about to go have breakfast but I stopped him from going down. Not sure why I asked him to stay but it was obviously a good call. The bear got up and carried on marching to check us out. I was on the bow. Most of us were there, I moved to the left side to get a better view of him. He stopped by a puddle sniffing the water that provided a perfect reflection. He was so close to us but then suddenly without any known reason, he got spooked and ran away. We were looking at each other in shock of what just happened. We heard nothing. No one really moved to drive him away. It was just bizarre.

    Adam later said that we didn't do anything wrong. We were all calm and quiet but the bear was quite nervous by his body language. Too bad we couldn’t spend longer time with him but he was such a cute healthy male. On top of that he is a virgin, which means no tracking collar or earrings (aka tags).

  • life on m/s stockholm #2

    This trip to Svalbard was not just about finding polar bears. There is so much more that Svalbard has to offer. Fortunately we found many polar bears and often we felt quite tired as we had restless days out photographing them.

    The only thing we could do was to download, back up and then get some rest. We did not know when we would hear the "Polar bear incoming!" call again.

    Captain's log

    Mary catching up with her diary after multiple long days.

  • life on m/s stockholm #1

    We were onboard M/S Stockholm, a classic icebreaker built in 1953 for the Swedish National Maritime Administration, for 11-day in Svalbard archipelago. There were 12 of us along with our trip leaders, Andy and Adam as well as another 7 crews inculding the captain.

    Meet our exceptional guide of polar region, Adam Rheborg

    There are polar bear sign everywhere we were in Svalbard as it's stated Gjelder hele Svalbard in Norwegian. It simply means polar bear applies to all of Svalbard.

  • journey north

    As expected, the journey North to the pack ice was rough along the West coast as we were exposed to the swells from the residual storms in the Arctic Ocean. I skipped breakfast the first morning as I heard sounds of china hitting the floor as we rolled.

    It was so nice to be out on the zodiac amongst glacial ice to help get over the sea sickness.

    Once we turned the West corner of Spitsbergen, the wind died down and was kind enough to let us cruise peacefully on our journey North. 

    The M/S Stockholm was built in 1953 for the Swedish National Maritime Administration and is a classic icebreaker. She sliced through the ice sheets effortlessly and we finally reached the pack ice before lunch. As the ice sheets parted or overturned, the gulls and kittiwakes were on high alert and dive bombed the fish that were unexpectedly exposed near the surface.

    Apart from enjoying bird activity on the main deck, we spotted our first bearded seal resting on an ice sheet. Some bearded seals, like this one has a reddish brown face which is from the benthic sediments when they feed. They are quite skittish and they have a good reason for such behavior. They are one of the primary food sources for polar bears. It was certainly a good sign seeing bearded seals around, don't you think?