Fur Seal Trek: Copa Camp

Dan Costa, at King George Island, near Antarctica -- This is the first in a series of short dispatches from an expedition to do a fur seal survey, starting around Livingston Island in the Shetland Islands, about 120 km (72 miles) from Antarctica. The dispatches are brief because outling email is severely limited from the Russian ship on which Dan Costa is traveling. -- ed. note. We made it across the Drake Passage in record time. It was calm seas the whole way. We arrived this afternoon at Admiralty Bay on King George Island. We are dropping off three people at the U.S. summer Field Station Copa. This site has a 30-year time series on the population dynamics of penguins.

Just before we set out to Copa station, a large group of Cape petrels landed near the boat. I was able to get this shot of them. Cape petrels have been with us almost all the way across the Drake Passage.

While here we stopped of at Arctowski Station, a Polish Antarctic station operated since 1977, and dropped off some fresh produce. It is a base of about 20 people. Here's a shot of their cozy living room.

Outside, I saw these three Gentoo penguins walking along the beach. Copa is situated among a series of penguin colonies and there are penguins walking all around.

Here is an image of the Yuzomegeologia, the Russian ship that is making this expedition possible (a Russian-flagged research vessel on charter to the U.S. Antarctic Marine Living Resources Program). In this photo, she is sitting in Admiralty Bay, King George Island. Tomorrow we're off to Cape Shirreff on Livingston Island for base relief and the beginning of the fur seal census.