Despite a slow start to the field season, we kept ourselves occupied with various outdoor survival trainings and gear prepping in the lab. While we were hoping to deploy tags soon after our arrival in Antarctica, this delay was a welcomed event while we patiently waited for the Weddell seals to complete their annual molt. However, as more time passed, we realized that we would have a lot of work ahead of us in order to deploy all 22 tags in the time remaining.
Kimberly Goetz at McMurdo Station, Antarctica--On January 16th, Dr. Jennifer Burns and I donned our gear and headed to helo operations. The goal of the mission was to fly within Erebus Bay and along the Victoria Land coastline of McMurco Sound in search of Weddell seals to tag during the next few weeks. We not only needed to locate sizable groups of seals, but we needed to locate them on ice that was strong enough to support a helo loaded with 6 people and all our gear.
Kimberly Goetz at McMurdo Station, Antarctica--This project required months of preparation. In fact, preparations began more than 6 months before traveling south! Seal tags were calibrated, prepped, programmed and tested; field gear was gathered, packed, and shipped; permit applications were submitted; logistics were arranged; medical clearances were obtained. The list seems to go on and on with many long nights spent at the lab.
Kimberly Goetz at McMurdo Station, Antarctica--Two groups of researchers led by Dan Costa (at UC Santa Cruz) and Jennifer Burns (at the University of Alaska) are traveling down to Antarctica to study Weddell seals in one of the most uninhabited places on Earth. Very little is known about Weddell seals and their ocean environment because it is very difficult and expensive to conduct studies in this harsh environment. We will use advanced tagging technology to study both the winter behavior and the environment of the Weddell seal over