Special Achievement of faculty - Prof. S. P. Chavan in Antartic Expedition




Prof. Shivaji Prabhakar Chavan, Head of the Department of Zoology, School of Life Sciences, S. R. T. M. University, Nanded- 431606, M. S. was selected as member of the scientific team of 39th Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica (39 – ISEA) for the Year 2019-20. It is an annual research program conducted under Indian Antarctic Research Program by National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Headland Sada, Goa, India. This is national program funded by Ministry of Earth Sciences, New Delhi, Government of India. He was on Antarctica for short Summer period of Antarctica November to March. The route of travel by Air was from Mumbai to Cape Town, S. Africa then to Antarctica; it was approx. 14,000 km. There are 53 research stations of various countries at Antarctica, India has two permanent research stations at Antarctica ‘Maitri’ and ‘Bharati’ 3000 km. apart from each other. Both the Indian stations remain working for various research activities throughout year. The expedition starts with entry of all selected members in Antarctica in the month of November-December for both the stations. Summer team return during month of February-March whereas winter team members remain throughout year at these stations

Research project and project outcome:

Selection of Prof. Chavan was for research at ‘MAITRI’ Station (700, 46, 00. 6 S.,  110, 43 50.8” E.)  Research Station of India in Schirmacher Oasis, Queen Moud Land, North-North-West Antarctica. His project was Individual Research Project entitled ‘Breeding ecology and biology of South Polar Skua Stercorarius maccormicki at Maitri Station, Schirmacher Oasis, Antarctica’. Main objectives of this project was to determine breeding population of South Polar Skua further will be called as Skua and other issues related to ecology and breeding of this Antarctic breeding endemic Charadriid species that include Nest site selection, Nest materials, clutch size, chick rearing and parental contribution for care. Interaction between skua in food less area away from Penguin colonies and sea shelf. It was first research proposal conducted successfully to investigate breeding ecology and biology of single species of bird in Schirmacher Oasis, Antarctica. Presence of 03 eggs in one of the nest of Skua was first report in this area. Nest density, 100 % Cannibalism of own eggs and  chicks by parent Skua breeding in Schirmacher oasis Antarctica was first report through this research. The reason behind this extreme self cannibalism of chicks by parents was unclear but probably scarcity of food in the breeding area might be one of the major cause. Analysis of regurgitate food pellets dropped near the nests during feeding to chicks was in progress, similarly the parasitological examination of fecal droplets in fresh and dry was also in pending. After breeding during short austral summer of Antarctica the Skua migrate back to Indian ocean and Atlantic ocean for its routine feeding ground as sea bird because it complete its breeding process and harsh winter of Antarctica start in the month of March. Details on occurrence of polythene plastic pieces in regurgitate food pellets of Skua was also first report through this project to found plastics in one of the top predator Skua in Antarctic continent. The findings are in the process of publication.

The findings of research by Prof. S. P. Chavan has considerably highlighted change in breeding behavior of South Polar Skua in Antarctica and environmental contamination due to macro plastics in Antarctic food chain. In his opinion it need to monitor in continuation through successive annual expeditions. It was difficult time to search nest locations of Skua in hilly terrain with interruption of several lakes on the way. He used DJI- SPARK Drone camera for the aerial photography of the region that helped to find the way and locate the nesting grounds in 34 km2 area of Schirmacher Oasis. It was also first attempt by an Indian to use Drone Camera for the study of Skua in this part of Antarctica.


 The project was a part of Indian Antarctic Scientific Program fully funded for complete logistic support for Medical Tests at AIIMS, N. Delhi; the training at ITBP, Auli, Uttarakhand; travel, living expenses at Goa, Cape Town and Antarctica; insurance and all technical support from NCPOR, Goa. As a rule of expedition On Duty Leave and HDA (Hard Duty Allowance) for the expedition period was approved and paid to professor S. P. Chavan by Hon. Vice Chancellor, Swami Ramanand Teerth Marathwada University, Nanded. Thanks to NCPOR, Goa and S. R. T. M. University, Nanded for this support and encouragement to represent India for such a prestigious research program at such an extreme part of the this globe ’Antarctica’.

Few glimpses of this Program:

Few photographs related to travel to Antarctica, view of Indian Research Station ‘ MAITRI’ at Schirmacher oasis, Antarctica. It also includes field work related to the research project in study area.

Maitri Station of India at Antarctica (Nov.,  2020; drone camera photo by Prof. S. P. Chavan)

Prof. S. P. Chavan  Landing at Antarctica- Novolazarevskaya Air Field  Runway -ALCI

Polar Vehicle for travel in Antarctic Ice

Behavioural study on Skua near the nesting ground

Search and success to get ground nest of South polar Skua near Land Locked Lake in Schirmacher Oasis, Antarctica. (Prof. S. P. Chavan)


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