The field season wanes and the pups wean...

Happy Thanksgiving! Here is your fresh delivery of photos from the Erebus Bay Weddell seal colonies. This season has been a wild one, with excessive storms bringing lots of snow and many delays for our crew in the field. But we have hardy and motivated team members who have tagged  650 pups, heading toward a record of over 700 new pups. Many pups are getting pretty chunky while their moms are getting very lean; the 35-day-old pups are reaching upwards of 260 pounds!! The pups are spending more time in the water, gaining valuable swimming skills that will help them survive when the sea ice melts and breaks up. Each season we try to complete 6 surveys of the seals in the study area. This entails reading the numbered tags of every individual lying on the sea ice and takes two days to complete, given the near-record number of seals in the study population of approximately 1,500 seals.

Mount Erebus shrouded in the background with Little Razorback (left black triangle) and part of Big Razorback (right) in the foreground.

Graduate student Shane Petch, checking in with other crew members and finding himself mesmerized by the view. Strange that a marine mammal should exist on this landscape...!

Adult male blending in at Inaccessible Island.

She's a good girl

The Turtle Rock colony.

Seal signatures in the fresh snow.

A Big Razorback pup gaining swimming skills.

All photos acquired under NMFS Permit #21158.

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