Weddell Seal Expedition: Tagging the final seal

Patrick Robinson at the Eastern Weddell Sea, Antarctica--Yesterday, we were in search of our 10th and final seal and found an ice floe with several seals.  We prepared our gear and went out onto the ice to get a closer look.  Unfortunately, the seals were a bit too young for our study (we are tagging adult animals).  So, we hiked back to the ship and continued our search.  We continued scanning through binoculars from the bridge for the remainder of the day, but saw only crabeater seals.



A pair of emperor penguins join us on an ice floe.  Photo: Keith Makinson


Earlier today we continued the search and found our last Weddell seal.  The tagging went well, but we did have one surprise:  a couple of curious emperor penguins joined us on the ice.  These remarkably tame animals launched themselves from the water up onto the ice and walked over to us without fear.  We also found a Weddell seal breathing hole and spotted a seal taking a few quick breaths between dives down to the bottom several hundred meters below.


A Weddell seal takes a breath from an ice hole.  Photo: Keith Makinson


We are all quite pleased with the success of the tagging and are now looking forward to continuing the oceanographic work.  Our next stop is a British research base, Halley station.


The Weddell seal team:  Keith Makinson, Patrick Robinson, Keith Nicholls, and Hannah Deakin