October 25, 2012
I woke up yesterday to low visibility, funneling winds, and a cold chill. The weather wasn’t great and worse off yet was the fact that the weather was quickly deteriorating. It was condition 2 (Con 2), which means no skidoo travel and no solo travel (one vehicle). The skidoo team stayed in, the PB (piston bully) team attempted to go out, got to the transition (the transition area from land to sea ice) before McMurdo called Con 2 and they were forced to turn around.
The weather on October 24, 2012
Temperature on station: -4°F
Visibility in miles: ½ in snow and blowing snow
Winds: E @19 knots
Although it’s disappointing to not go out, I was relieved to have an extra day to catch up on work and prepare myself. I spent yesterday calibrating two cameras from last season, which means that I am now ready to create the last three remaining models from last season! And instead of spending a late night in the lab getting my last minute to dos before we have to go out, I managed to leave the lab by 8 and actually try and relax, get a couple drinks with friends, and enjoy some personal time before the NEW big day.
We got back at 7:00 pm. Left at 10:00 am. We have four groups of animals we’re aiming for: pups, juveniles, non-reproductive females (NRF), and post-reproductive females (PRF). Reproductive female Weddell seals are just beginning to have their pups this time of year and we don’t work with them until after the pups have been weaned, roughly 4-6 weeks after birth. Last season we tagged 11 juveniles, so our top priority for this time in the season are NRF. We found one female today who seemed a promising candidate, upon a visual check she appeared non-reproductive. However, after thermal imaging and completing an ultrasound, it aroused enough suspicion that we decided not to work on her today. We returned to our fish hut, had lunch, and because we couldn’t find anymore NRFs we worked on a juvenile we found near the base of Tent Island .
Because it’s been a year since we worked on an animal, the process was a bit slower than usual, but by the end of the season we will be at maximum speed and efficiency. We are completing photogrammetry at a different time in the procedure, which I am excited about, because I believe it will be less time consuming and better for both the seal and all of us.
I don’t think I quite realized how antsy I was before today, but after getting our first animal tagged there was a general wave of relief and excitement that went around the team. I returned home famished and exhausted. I have logged the photos from today, charged up the batteries of the cameras, and cleaned the “sealy” gear. The weather is supposed to hold up, so we’ll attempt to tag another seal tomorrow! Here we go!
Photos from our dry run on Monday, our first day back out on the ice.
Thanks for the photos Rachel!
The onion is our custom built field tent. It is strong, shelters us from the elements, and goes up in only a few minutes.
Putting up the onion!
Hut 21! Our fish hut out on the ice provides us a warm place to take a break and eat while we’re working out in the elements all day.
Th completed project: the onion!
Markus offering “Tasty” Cheese
(minus Rachel, who is taking the photo)