South Base

First off, if you want to see what happens when you wake up biologists at 1am for an interview:

There are certain regions of our study area that are a little more difficult to access and navigate due to varied ice type, structure, and dynamics, and this is where we call in FSTP (pronounced ef-stop; Field Saftey Training Program; a dedicated group, composed mostly of mountaineering guides in places like Alaska and the Tetons, to help science groups remain safe in challenging circumstances).  This may be the only project in the world that calls in mountaineers to help with marine seal research!  Two areas that FSTP has joined us, is North Base and South Base of the Erebus Glacier Tongue.  I missed North Base earlier this week (not everyone can go!), but I got to go to South Base with Darren.

The ice tongue is difficult to see, but is part of the closer white cliffs.  South "Base" refers to where the tongue begins from Ross Island (the "armpit").  The tongue is formed from glacier ice coming down from the island into Erebus Bay, running aground, and forming a long, linear tongue out into the sea ice.  Behind the tongue is tons and tons of ice pushing into the sea...causing cracks and pressure ridges that are apparent all over our study area.  
This is the very armpit of the ice tongue, and is incredibly garbled with glacier ice.  Nearby this jumble, are the seals. 
In the canyonlands.  Every seal in our study area has to be tagged...and this is where they can bring us.  You may wonder how we knew they were here...well, we use helicopter recon flights to find the seals we can't see, and then we go get em.

Mass of ice broken off the island nearby the ice tongue...we call it "New Jersey"
South Base "Cleaners"


  1. New Jersey the huge block on the right turned up at 35 degrees? What does a "cleaner" do?

    1. yup! And a "cleaner" is one who tags all the pups and adults in an area, ie "cleaned it up"...just a saying that usually accompanies high fives.

  2. What's so special about North Base?

    Also, is there a constant tension between North and South Basers? "Our seals are much cuter than yours! Ha!"

    1. Actually it's more like "our seals are more agro than yours!":-)

      Darren got to go to North AND South Base... Lucky stiff.

      Thanks for visiting AE from NaN!


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