Two videos to check out today! Henry caught some fantastic footage of a Weddell seal pup interacting with their mother that has already been featured on Boing Boing and another video of me building one of 3D models of the seals! Thanks to John Skinner who took the GoPro footage and to Henry Kaiser for the field footage and for putting the whole thing together!
And so begins the week of doubles. Today was the first day that we have finally had potential pups that are both old enough and weaned and therefore potentials for us to work on. We’re trying to get out as many tags out as possible, we’re attempting double deployments (tagging two animals a day) until further notice or until we run out of tags, and Thanksgiving is this weekend.
My back started to spasm again yesterday, so I decided to play it safe and ride in the Piston Bully (PB) today, and to top it all off I woke up this morning, on the first day of this intense week, aching all over, and hoping with all of my might that I am not getting the crud at the most inopportune time ever. We left at 9 am, got back into town at 8 pm, we called ahead and had the galley save dinner for us, undressed out of our ECW (Extreme Cold Weather gear), had dinner, and now we’re back in the lab again. It’s 10:45 and I’ve cleaned two sets of stomach tubes, charged the camera batteries, uploaded photogrammetry photos for the day, I’m blogging now, and still need to log the photos from today. The whole process starts again tomorrow. We load the PB at 8:45 am, PB leaves at 9 am, skidoo team leaves at 10, and we meet at Turks Head. Turks head is 25 miles away from station, a 2 hour drive by PB, and 45 minutes by skidoo. The skidoo team drives around looking for potential candidates and searching for the specific pups we know are old enough and can even be considered as potential candidates. There are several islands in McMurdo Sound, the Delbridge Islands consists of: Inaccessible Island, Tent Island, Big Razorback Island, Little and Razorback Island. There are also breeding colonies of Weddell seals at places like Turks Head, Tryggve Point, and Turtle Rock. But groups of seals both large and small can be found all around the bay, usually congregated near cracks (Mainbody crack is a popular spot this year for instance) and sometimes you can even find a single seal seemingly in the middle of nowhere, far away from any visible crack or hole.
On a side note, life can be so ridiculously crazy sometimes. One of my good friends from OSU, Kiya Riverman, is someone who I met while working as an undergraduate research assistant at OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. She graduated from OSU a year ago and just completed her first year as a PHD student at Penn State. Kiya told me a month ago that she received a last minute opportunity to come down to Antarctica and that she would be coming through McMurdo on her way to field camp. I went out to meet Kiya yesterday as she got off the Kress and walked onto station for the first time. Later that evening I walked into my dorm room to find out, SURPRISE, she is also Rachel’s and my new roommate! Funny how things work out sometimes and how the ties you make with people have a tendency of crossing again at random points in your life. It felt pretty fantastic and surreal to be to catching up with an old friend sitting on my bed in a dorm room at McMurdo Station in Antarctica.