The Month of February is Almost Over

By: Logan Pallin

The month of February is almost over. Doug has now left and headed back to the states and Erin and I will now remain at station until early April. Things have not picked up any more since our last biopsy event on the 6th of February. We have only seen three whales since then, just enough to keep us from going insane. We have also had some bad weather come through that has moved some very large icebergs into the harbor which always makes for a nice view.

We do tend keeping busy on the water, even when whales are not present, by boating around and looking for crab eater seal scat samples. From the scat samples we can determine which of the three krill species they are feeding on along the peninsula, which in turn will tell us something about where they are feeding as certain species of krill are found in specific locations. We find the scat on ice flows that the seals have hauled out on to rest. We then have a kitchen spoon, thanks to the palmer station galley, attached to a 10 foot piece of bamboo that we use to scoop the scat off the ice. We have collected two samples thus far.

It is amazing to see how much the glacier behind station has changed in just the month and half now that I have been at station. We know that since the 1950s that this part of Antarctica has been experiencing some of the fastest warming of anywhere on the planet. Scientists have shown that the temperature down here at Palmer Station has increased by 5 degrees C in the last 60 years. The snowcap has already disappeared off the glacier, and when we hike up it, if you listen closely you can hear vast amounts of running water underneath where you stand.

It is also that time of year now where most of all the adult penguins have molted and left the breeding colonies. Likewise, this years chicks have fledged and are now foraging on their own somewhere with in the palmer deep canyon most likely. Other animals have begun to show up in numbers. We are now seeing more weddell and Antarctic fur seals populating the islands as the summer progresses.

The Laurence M. Gould is sitting out in the harbour right now waiting to bring to station another scientific team that does a lot of scuba diving in the area. It will be exciting to have fresh faces on station, but more important are the fresh veggies that will be offloaded later today.

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