Flags and first tags

Oh, we are so happy to be in the field! Bill Link (passionate statistician and photographer) staying warm and enjoying every moment. We are finally all geared up to get out on the sea ice. The first task?? Flagging roads for the bad weather days when all we can see...is the next flag. The rope seen lying on the snow gets pulled behind a snowmobile, is 50 m long and marks the distance between flags.

Kit demonstrating solid drilling skills to lay a road to Turtle Rock. We drill through the snow and ice to plant the flags. In the far background is Mt Terror, with the snowy Hutton Cliffs (one of our major seal colonies) below it and Turtle Rock (the black hill near center which is not connected to Hutton Cliffs as it may appear). 

We carry the flags on the Siglin sleds pulled behind snowmobiles. Red flags are used to designate safe travel routes, black flags are used to indicate danger or cracks.

Finally! Seals! While flagging, we also looked for new pups. These little gals and guys need some new tags.

Kit (right) tagging her first Weddell seal pup, assisted by Jay Rotella, the principal investigator for the project. We place two numbered tags on the rear flippers. The simple number tags give each individual a unique identifier and allow us to track the animal for the remainder of their lives. Tagging pups is a critical part of the study and every single pup is tagged every season. This has happened for the past 50 years, and, we hope, for many more.

And finally finally! Back to Big Razorback! This will be our home for the rest of the season....starting TOMORROW. Huts are to be pulled out in the morning and we are all really looking forward to it. We stopped by yesterday to check for new pups and flag a road from Big Razorback Island to Little Razorback Island, a smaller island (obviously) with a smaller colony.