Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Greetings! We are still stuck at McMurdo, but did manage to get a helicopter flight over our study area yesterday during a lull in the weather. After spending last season down here, I was accustomed to seeing sea- ice as far as the eye could see - open water was about 50 miles from where we set up camp a year ago. This year, storms have blown out a good deal of the sea ice and open water is just past the northern boundary of our study area. It is pretty wild to see this - reminds us that we are, in fact, on the "coast". During our flight we saw 31 adult Weddells, and 2 pups. So, the pupping hasn't really begun in full force, but should increase quite a bit over the next week. I would not want to be a seal pup born into yesterday or today's "Condition 1" weather (defined as wind speeds greater than 55 knots, wind chills colder than -100 degrees F, or visibility less than 100 feet).

Edge of sea-ice

Open water begins at Cape Royds. An Adelie penguin rookery is located on the shore here - penguins should be able to swim in to their breeding ground next month, rather than walking miles over the sea-ice as they did last year.

Tent Island and nearby open water. Trans-Antarctic mountain range in the background.

Group of Weddell seals at Tent Island seen from the helicopter

Sunday, October 12, 2003

We are off to a slow start so far. Some exciting weather rolled into McMurdo today - strong winds, blowing snow and very low visibility. From the lab window, I can only intermittently see the building about 15 yards away. Needless to say, our camp did not get set up today as planned. In the meantime, here are 2 photos of our crew - one shows Susy, Mark, Darren and Kelly on a hike near Lyttleton in NewZealand. The second is Darren, Kelly and Susy standing in front of Vince's Cross on Hut Point yesterday. The third photo shows the cross which was erected in memory of George Vince (a member of Scott's Discovery expedition), who drowned in McMurdo Sound in 1902.

Weddell seal crew in New Zealand

Darren, Kelly and Susy

Vince's cross on Hut Point

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