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Showing posts from 2012

A Friendly Penguin Wave (Goodbye?!)

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The 2012 Weddell seal science season for our crew is just about wrapped up, sadly enough.  Our camp has been pulled off the ice, and we've been busy scurrying around, returning equipment and gear, cleaning and washing everything.  We leave in 7 days!  Aaack!

It has been an incredible season with a lot of valuable data collected by a solid crew.  There are literally hundreds of people to thank for making this project a success...a substantial proportion of them working as support staff here on station.  Nothing would be possible without their wonderful and friendly support.  And I certainly can't forget to thank YOU (if you are a tax-paying American citizen).  Because this project is completely funded by the National Science Foundation, YOU are paying for it.

This may be my last season here on the ice, and so I hope you have enjoyed some of my attempts to capture not only the project, but also the incredible scenery and majesty of this place.  I may have a few more posts left i…

The Pack Ice is In

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The sea ice edge transformed by fast flowing pack ice and peculiar penguins:





Darren, over at Nature and Noise, has a great photo of some ice caves in the Erebus Glacier Tongue.

Seal in the Sun

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All Weddell seal images obtained under NMFS permit no. 17236

White Islanders

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About 60 years ago, the sea ice melted so far back into McMurdo Sound, that it began melting and breaking off the ice shelf all the way back to an island, called White Island.  Previous to this event, no seals were found at White Island, but the melting allowed several (estimated to be three females and two males based on an ongoing study by Tom Gelatt) seals to get to the island and take advantage of its underwater resources (food!).  But the seals did not prepare for the fact that they would never be allowed to leave again.  The next year, and every year after, even to the present time, the sea ice has not melted or broken out to White Island, and the ice edge has always been maintained at a distance too far for the seals to make it out.  So the seals have remained, and they have kept breeding.  Each season, we take a helicopter twice to White Island to tag any pups that are born, collect genetics samples (a tiny tissue sample from their flipper), and assess their status.  Since it …

The Edge

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A helo flight to Marble Point (to tag pups from mom's that were previously tagged and retag any adults that needed it), brought us along the edge of the sea ice, where some pack ice has been blown in.  I have never seen this before, typically (the past two seasons being typical for me), it is just vast open ocean.  Pack ice tends to bring more critters, as some, like the leopard seal, crabbeater seal, and Ross's seal, are much more tightly associated with pack ice.  Here are a few shots of the pack ice:









Slush Puppy Anyone?

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Antarctic slush puppies are a bit different than back home...

Click here to make bigger and change quality if desired.

Video taken under NMSF permit no. 17236

Comparative Fat Content Analysis

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...a real science-y way of saying "Look at how fat that pup has gotten!"
Before:

After: 


All Weddell seal images obtained under NMFS permit no. 17236

A Taste Of A McMurdo Thanksgiving

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And this is what the seals do for Thanksgiving:

Check out a new post on the Weddell Seal Science blog!

Pup and Pickup Ride

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Diver Ex-entry

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Divers Henry Kaiser and Rob Robbins entering a dive hole in a hut at Turtle Rock...except in reverse (they don't really come blasting out of the hole to get out).  "Creative!" you may exclaim to yourself.  Actually, its an inability to correctly put together a stop motion video.



What are these divers capturing in their dives?  Check out another Weddell seal team's (B470) YouTube channel to see some great underwater footage of the seals!

Terra Nova

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At the most basic level, population studies (like ours on the Weddell seals) is all about input and output.  Births and deaths, immigration and emigration. Simple.  Well, not really.  It's very difficult to figure out who's dying or leaving in an open system population. One way we try to figure out who's leaving, is by taking a helo trip up the coast to Terra Nova Bay, to a small satellite population of seals, just to check if any of our tagged seals show up there.  We also make some stops closer in.  And this is what was done today, the helo picked our whole crew up at camp, and off we went: