Saturday, November 27, 2004

Pup tally = 168 (155 still alive, 13 dead)

We've just returned to field camp after a day or R&R in McMurdo. We were challenged to a bowling tournament by one of the other science groups down here, so we headed in Friday night and enjoyed an evening of bowling at McMurdo Lanes - 2 lanes with hand set pins. Unfortunately, we were beaten, but only by 20 points or so. Considering that our opponents have special bowling shirts that they bring to Antarctica with them, this is not too bad of an outcome. On Saturday, we all participated in the McMurdo Turkey Trot 5K race and performed reasonably well. In the afternoon we walked over to Scott Base (the New Zealand station) to investigate whether the souvenirs in their station store were any more exciting or cheaper than those in McMurdo's store. We thought we might perhaps run into Sir Edmund Hillary who is visiting Antarctica right now and staying at Scott Base, but there was no sign of him. Last night we enthusiastically partook of the annual Thanksgiving feast in the galley at McMurdo, and then returned to camp this morning.

Last Friday, before all of this weekend excitement, we finally had the much-anticipated flight outside of our study area, and indeed found a number of tagged seals with pups up around Beaufort Island which is about 50 miles north of here. The seals were all hauled out along a crack between Beaufort Island and a huge iceberg. This satellite image from a couple weeks ago shows the locations of the big icebergs that have been moving around the entrance to McMurdo Sound since calving from the Ross Ice Shelf in 2000. The iceberg we were working next to is B-15-K, which is immense, but as the image shows it is small relative to the other bergs.

Here is a photo showing part of B-15-K in the distance and a group of Emperor penguins in the foreground:

This photo shows our helicopter pilot and technician walking through the colony at the iceberg:

The final photo shows our camp in a nice snowfall the other day:

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