Of guillemots and cliffs

Brunnich’s Guillemot

With so many other wildlife around, one could almost forget Alkefjellet is a spectacular place in itself already. With steep, 100m high cliffs rising straight up from the water and around 100.000 pairs of Brunnich’s Guillemots it’s always very impressive to cruise underneath the cliffs, either with a zodiac or with the larger ship. The rocks are basalt, so they are black, however the birds ‘painted’ them in this pinkish colour. Advice is always to look up at the birds as much as possible, but to keep your mouth closed while doing so…

Guillemots are members of the Auk-family and completely unrelated to penguins. They do look very similar, which is a result of convergent evolution: two unrelated species in a similar environment evolving in the same direction because that has an advantage for their way of living (hunting under water). Only one major difference: guillemots can still fly, while they have to breed on cliffs in avoid predation by Arctic Foxes and Polar Bears (well, for how much that works, see my previous posts).

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