Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Greetings everyone - we came into town last night to restock our groceries and now have a short lull as we wait for the winds to let up enough to get back out to camp. Life out on the sea ice is great - we have had a few beautiful days (30F, 0 wind) interspersed with a fairly impressive windstorm (or 'herbie' as its known here, for hurricane + blizzard). We've completed our second census of the Erebus Bay population, and will continue to census every few days until we have 8 censuses. We've seen between 700 and 800 animals out on the ice during each census. The pups are getting incredibly fat (mom's milk is 60 percent fat) while the mothers are gradually gaining back their girlish figures. The older pups (3-4 weeks) are also learning to swim, some more enthusiastically than others.

This pup is showing off its new flipper tags:

Our only local avian wildlife is the skua, a large brown gull. They often give away the location of a newborn pup, as they congregate to feed on the placenta before it is frozen. This photo shows a skua in flight, and the Delbridge Islands in the background, partially obscured by the Erebus glacier tongue, which reaches out across the sea ice from the east (right-hand side of this photo):

We've had a few visitors out at camp this week (folks from McMurdo refilling our diesel tanks, the manager of the Crary Lab helping with our equipment) but the most unexpected was this little Adelie penguin who came wandering down the flagged road to our huts late Sunday night. The nearest Adelie rookery is about 15 miles to the north, so we are not sure where he was headed:

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