We spend a lot of time looking at penguins down here, but they’re not the only birds around. An almost constant presence overhead is the aptly named southern giant-petrel—the biggest flying bird in Antarctica. Southern giant-petrels have six-foot wingspans and tremendous bills that look like a cross between a bottle opener and a piece of body armor.
Over the years they have developed a fearsome reputation as fierce, stinky, bloodstained, irritable scavengers. But one researcher—Donna Fraser, a member of the CONVERGE project’s birding team—has spent the last 20 years re-evaluating this myth, inventing a new, gentler way of approaching the birds, and discovering valuable information about them into the bargain. Click through the slideshow for a closer look at the lives and habits of this misunderstood seabird: