Life: Video extras: Deception Island

Featuring: Video Video

Join the Life team as they journey to Deception Island to film amongst chinstrap penguins.

By: Dr David Robinson (Department of Environment, Earth and Ecosystems)

  • Duration 5 mins
  • Updated Wednesday 7th October 2009
  • Introductory level
  • Posted under TV, Life
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Copyright BBC


Narrator – David Robinson: The Antarctic. And this island in the South Shetlands isn’t quite what it seems. Travel around the coast and you find a very narrow entrance, Neptune’s Bellows, that opens into a huge volcanic caldera, a safe haven but almost invisible from the sea. That’s why it’s called Deception Island. The Life team are arriving to film penguins. But after ferrying the equipment the others leave.

[People wave as they leave Nikki and Steve on the island.]

Nikki: Bye! Here we are Steve.

Steve: [Unclear]

Nikki: Here’s the houses.

Steve: We don’t seem to be on our own, though.

Nikki: On our own? There’s 200,000 penguins.

[Nikki is now on the beach.]

Nikki: The sun’s out, I’ve had to strip down, so this as near to basically naked as I’ve been since I’ve been here. I’ve not on my hat and scarf, so don’t look too closely at the hair, it hasn’t been washed for about a week or so. But just come down to the beach, I want to show you this blob of an animal that apparently is an elephant seal. It just is enormous. I’ll show you the first seals next to it who I suppose are probably about four or five foot long, and when they rear up on their front flippers probably come to about waist height, maybe belly button height. Just coming next to them just makes them look tinier, something like puppy dogs.

[The camera pans across the beach.]

So there’s your first seal, bear in mind these penguins are about knee height, and then this dum-dum, dum-dum, what a whopper! Look at the size of it!

[Nikki is talking to camera with the giant seal in the background.}

What a beauty! It’s enormous. It must be a ‘she’ I think because some of the males have much bigger snouts, but what a sight!

[Shots of penguins gathering on the beach.]

Narrator: Gin strap penguins live in huge colonies. They feed on small fish and krill in the sea but breed and nest on land that’s ice free. Predators wait offshore, but on land the adults are safer. Eggs and young though, are preyed on by seabirds.

There are penguins moulting, look a bit unkempt, and the wind blows their shed feathers around the colony.

[Birds squawking]

This giant petrel with its two metre wingspan is seen as a threat, and some penguins mob it.

The bird normally feeds on carrion, including the carcasses of elephant seals, but it also preys on penguins.

[Birds squawking]

This one has taken a penguin close to where the team are setting up the boom camera, and he’s making short work of stripping the bones.

[The petrel eats the penguin.]

[Sound of birds]

Nikki: [Unclear] Look at that, absolutely delicious. This is day seven. We’re celebrating by lunch outside in the sunshine but perishing wind, with a can of Heineken. What did you call it, Steve, a taste of civilisation?

Steve: A definite taste of civilisation, yes.

Nikki: And we just got a bit of tea on the go on the stove for pudding.

[Sound of birds]

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