Challenging Habitat Blog

Watch a summary of the circumnavigation and big thanks to World Parks on YouTube:

Recent studies, reported in The Conversation, recorded increases in some whale species, including blue and humpback in Antarctic waters and the western Arctic bowhead, fin and minke in the Arctic.

One study indicats that a new generation of blue whales, decimated by large-scale slaughter in the early 20th century, have ‘rediscovered’ the rich supplies of krill around South Georgia.

This is indeed good new.

However (there is always a ‘however’ these days….),

pressure on the populations of the whale’s most important food supplies, Antarctic krill in the South and copepods in the North, is mounting:

I blogged about this before – nearly a year ago…LINK

Everything we do has consequences. They may be big or small, near and visible or remote and out of sight.

Before we do something, we can consider its consequences for nature and ecosystems near or far, for people near of far, for generations to come – in short its sustainability. If we start making a habit of that, we can, collectively, get somewhere with a more sustainable way of living…

Featured Image: “Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus)” by Gregory ‘Slobirdr’ Smith is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

A clear view over the English Channel from Rame Head.

On Thursday, we could see as far as the Lizard Peninsula, some 40 miles away.

Whether it was legal to drive there under the current lockdown has become murky, with two friends being fined for separately driving to meet for a walk, and while that’s being clarified, I’ll return to walking my local lanes.

The Australian government is planning to build a massive concrete airport on Antarctica, The Guardian reports today.

Nobody actually owns Antarctica – it is governed internationally by the Antarctic Treaty.

The Australian government justifies their airport plans by arguing that it is necessary to ensure continuity of access to their research base.

Somehow I don’t fully buy into that argument, nor do many of the scientists and environmentally minded, The Guardian interviewed for their article.

Building that airport will be a slippery slope, a precedent for other big infrastructure projects on the continent.

It has the potential to broaden the pursuit of profit from the exploitation of resources and tourism in the Southern Ocean to the landmass of this great wilderness, with all the usual disrespect for nature and wildlife seen on all other continents.

Can this project, and others not motivated scientific research and unperturbed by consideration of sustainability, be stopped?

I think it is imperative to do so.

Featured image: “Globe centred on Antarctica – Satellite image – PlanetObserver” by PlanetObserver is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The sea!


Always different.

Always awesome.

Drawn to it.

For me, ‘necessary travel’ was to the coast today.

To experience the expanse of the sea and walk with a friend.

The final part of this incredible voyage brought the Pelican of London up the Thames and through Tower Bridge (twice) before finally docking at Canary Wharf.

I’m back on the Pelican of London for the final day of the voyage: up the Thames, through Tower Bridge (twice) and the final docking at Canary wharf.

It feels strange to be socially distancing from people I lived and worked with, as recently as last week, in a covid-19 free bubble. …and I’m gutted not to be part of the crew maning the yards on our sail through the bridge.

It’s clearly scenic in its own way, and photographers aboard are as busy as ever. As environmental scientist, I preferred the more natural and pristine land and seascapes of Scotland.

The river is busy and unfortunately carries a lot of floating litter. I chose to show one of the less revolting items …

Exciting times: getting aloft for the sail through Tower Bridge!

Getting ready…
… opening just for us…
… Imogen leading a shanty….
…a job well done, just enjoy it now!

As the afternoon fades, we enter Canary wharf to dock for a final time on this voyage.

We’ve arrived!

A final evening of celebrating a fantastic journey lies ahead and then it’s good bye (for now).

Today was special, even more so than other days during the Darwin 200 voyage on the Tall Ship Pelican of London.

We visited Bass Rock!

With 75000 pairs of breeding gannets, plus young birds and chicks, Bass Rock is the largest northern gannet breeding colony.

Gannets grow incredibly fast but don’t develop their full adult colouring until they are around five years old and ready to breed.

Adult with chick that is loosing it’s first fluffy plumage.

Chicks and young birds with different stages of dark plumage occupy Bass Rock.

Adults with beautiful facial markings and this year’s chicks nearly fat enough to enter the water.

The number and proximity, the cacophony of sound and pungent smell of guano!

A unique experience of the wonders of nature.

Gannets rule!

Learn more about gannets at the Scottish Seabird Center

Today was sadly the day I left Pelican for life on land again. Duties at the University of Plymouth are calling…

It’s been a fantastic voyage around Britain’s North, on the Pelican, now quite familiar, and with its crew, who I have grown very fond of.

Leaving Pelican behind in the ship’s RIB…

Thank you!

Bass Rock hosts the northern hemisphere’s largest colony of gannets and we had the privilege to visit them:

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