The South Polar Skua, about the size of an Adele Penguin and quite a bit larger than Sponge Bob Squarepants. And dead.
The South Polar Skua
is a serious scavenger, willing to eat whatever some other bird has caught, or is trying to hatch, or the bird itself. Humans would never think of doing anything like that. If there is any non-human animal we see at South Pole, it is likely to be a skua that is pretty badly lost; it is unlikely to make it back to the ocean, but big soaring birds can go long distances without using a lot of energy.
At McMurdo Skua is mostly in an outbuilding pretty near the dorms. The boots seemed like a good example of the kind of stuff that accumulates there. It also reminded me of the Boot Room at Dan and Whit’s, a magical place.
USAP [and for all I know, Antarctic programs from other nations] have decided to give this behavior a more positive spin. When someone has something still useful but no longer of use, it goes to the Skua shed, bin, or pile. Others who see the use still lurking in these not-quite-discarded objects take them from Skua. Different people have different judgements about “use,” but it seems to be pretty liberal. On the other hand, when my “overnight stay” at McMurdo turned into nearly a week, and the McMurdo store had been pretty well sacked by departing winter-overs, I was happy for it.
Most of the stuff I took from Skua for my McMurdo stay. I had some boots, but the soles were too slippery, so I put them back.
I acquired quite a lot of
useful things from Skua in Mac Town. Far and away the best was Monster Fleecy. While walking around McMurdo several people recognized it, but nobody could quite remember wh had made it — it was just a bit of legend. A few days ago here at South Pole someone offered me ten dollars, but I shall not part with Monster Fleecy. Fashion statements are important.
Aw, don’t worry scarf. Someone always forgets about the group photo. No crying now big. guy.