Our first leg of tagging was amazingly productive (and fun).
Yesterday we concluded our first of three tagging legs with a return trip to Palmer Station. It was a remarkably successful first 10 days. We deployed and retrieved six (count ‘em six!) tags, including two overnight tracks. Colin, Roland and Alison have already started to look at the 62 hours of tag data. We mapped the massive krill swarm in Picard Cove together with the distribution of whales, penguins and seals. And we think we have a pretty good understanding of the physics underlying the system (of course, being scientists, we would think that, wouldn’t we?). Interestingly, we were also able to survey some adjacent areas, where krill and predator densities were much lower; we may target those areas in our next leg. And, finally, today we submitted a short paper describing our sighting of Arnoux’s beaked whales (how’s that for efficiency?). All in all, the first leg was about as successful as we could have ever hoped for.
We arrived yesterday morning at Palmer and the Gould spent the night here before leaving first thing this morning for a three-day fishing trip. Some of our crew are making the trip up to Dallman Bay with the icefishing crew – we’re hoping that they will have fair winds and calm seas. For the past few days our weather has been fabulous, although the days are getting shorter and shorter. The sun rose today at 9:00 AM and set at 3:30 PM.
Of course, it should go without saying that we’re also managing to have fun. On the way back to Palmer we stopped at the gloriously beautiful Paradise Bay, where there is a small seasonal Argentinean base that is currently unoccupied. We hiked up a hill for a view of the Bay and then did some human sledding down the hill. Some of us (Colin, for example) are very good sledders and a few of us (me, for example) really aren’t quite so good. You’ll need to watch the video to understand. Pat did a mean impression of a yeti, though. And our visit ended with an epic snowball fight in which Ari was the last man standing.
Yesterday we hiked around the Station – some of the crew went up the Glacier and a few of us poked around the shoreline, where we found a very sleepy Weddell seal. And last night the ship and station crews all played bingo together – if you think bingo isn’t fun, you’ve never played the version we experienced at Palmer Station. Today Elliott, Ari, Lindsey, Colin and I took one of the Zodiacs out to do a little krill mapping around Palmer Station and stopped off on Torgerson Island to have a quick look at the elephant and fur seals.
- This Weddell seal was snoozing on the shore near Palmer Station
We’ll have three days here at Palmer Station before the Gould returns and we switch crews again. Then we’ll head out for another ten days of tracking whales and their prey in one of the world’s most beautiful and extreme environments.