Damn Skuas!

While I was stationed in Antarctica I flew with both helicopter crews and fixed wing crews as a Search And Rescue Medical Technician.

Antarctic Skua

Skua image by tullis on flickr

When preparing for a flight one of the duties we often had was to go to the central galley (chow hall) and collect enough box lunches for the crew. Many of the flights we went on were between 3 and 8 hours long.

One of the interesting things about living in Antarctica is that the wildlife has legal protection to the point of being dominant over all human activities. Basically the Antarctic Conservation Act states that if you knowingly do anything that causes an animal to change its natural behavior, you can be fined up to $10,000 per incident. They take the interest of the habitat and its inhabitants very seriously.

Well, somehow the animals have found out about this! I don’t know how, but they know. And they take every advantage of it.

One example is when we were preparing for a long flight, the aircrew had to go to the chow hall and get enough box-lunches for the crew and passengers for that flight. Sometimes this meant getting multiple cases of box-lunches.

There is a bird that is native to Antarctica called a Skua. This bird looks like a seagull on steroids. They are big, and apparently they can read because they know that they are untouchable.

Whenever we had boxes of any kind of food around, we always had to post a guard at the food. Not for fear of someone stealing it, but for the expectation that one or more Skua would see that there was food available and would come and tear into it.

The other really dangerous activity was trying to make it from the chow hall to another building with a plate of food. The Skuas were like WWII dive bombers! If they caught anyone out in the open with food, they would dive-bomb you until you dropped it. Then they would land on it and stare up at you like you were interrupting their meal. Little bastards!

Of course there was only one thing you could do at this point. Haul your butt back to the chow hall and get ready for another run through the gauntlet. I think this is one of the reasons that we weren’t supposed to take any food out of the chow hall. It was for our own safety.

Thinking back on this gives me the idea that many of us have our own “skuas” in our lives.

These are the people that swoop in whenever they feel like it, impose their will and then treat you like you are imposing on them.

Some will dive-bomb you with their unsolicited advice. You don’t know what you’re doing. You need to find a better job! You can’t go out with that person. You’re never going to amount to anything.

Some will drop in and help themselves to your refrigerator, your closet, your tools, your couch or even your car.

Fortunately the Antarctic Conservation Act doesn’t apply to our lives (unless you find yourself in Antarctica!). We can give these skuas the boot. We don’t have to put up with their antics.

When they come swooping in, let them know that what they are doing is disruptive and unwelcome. Give them the boot if you have to. You have the right to a life without the negative influence of these kind of people.

They are not a protected species. Although, sometimes I wonder with the way they act if they believe that they are.


Don’t put up with the Skuas in your life.

Give them the boot and get on with making your dreams come true!


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