Weddell Seal Expedition: Halley Station and Signy Island

Patrick Robinson at Signy Island--After completing most of the science work for the expedition, the ship stopped at Halley Station (a British research base on the Brunt ice shelf) to pick up about 25 people and drop off supplies for the folks who will remain there during the winter.  This station is unique because it is built on a thick ice shelf rather than land.  The buildings must be raised on stilts to prevent the inevitable accumulation of snow from burying them over the course of several years.

Southern giants have been tagged!

Luis Huckstadt at Punta Arenas, Chile--We are finally back to civilization after a successful field season at Cape Shirreff, Antarctica. I'm happy to report that we accomplished our goal of deploying 15 satellite tags on southern elephant seals (see Cool Cousins). This work could not have been done without the great crew that helped us at the Cape Shirreff camp.

Update from the Cape!

Luis Huckstadt at Cape Shirreff, Antarctica-- It's been very busy at the Cape these last couple of weeks. The daily routine hasn't changed that much from the previous report, but the workload has not decreased a bit! We continue with our daily flipper tag resights of Antarctic fur seals along the coast of the Cape. We're trying to make sure that we count them accurately, as well as trying to figure out if the moms still have their pups. Fur seals seem to be really good moms, and keep track of their pups really well.

Cool Cousins

The GIGANTIC Southern Elephant Seals

Northern elephant seals, Mirounga angustirostris, are one of TOPP’s champion species. Over 370 e-seals have been tagged, enabling biologists at TOPP to learn an incredible amount about the mysteries of the North Pacific Ocean.

A satellite tagged Northern elephant seal swimming in the waters off Año Nuevo State Reserve. Photo: Dan Costa.


Days At The Cape

Luis Huckstadt at Cape Shirreff, Antarctica--Days at the camp are pretty busy, and it's really interesting. We start our work day early, heading out for Antarctic fur seal tag resights, or searching for flipper tags. These are little tags, on squirmy seals, so it usually takes most of our morning. Besides resighting tags, we count individuals which can be complicated in cold places like the Antarctica!  On chilly days, seals tuck their flippers under their bodies to conserve body heat, making our mission of reading their flipper tags quite the challenge!

Arriving at the Cape

Luis Huckstadt at Cape Shirreff, Antarctica-- I'm finally here at The Cape! It's a stormy Antarctic day, so I thought that I'd take this opportunity to write you a report of my expedition so far!


The Busy Season

Nicole Teutschel at UC Santa Cruz, Long Marine Lab--Accountants have tax season, teachers... back to school, malls have the holidays: TOPP biologists are busy now...when many species are ready for tags, all at once! TOPP biologists are busy deploying satellite tags on five species....and that's just today!

The Expedition Begins

Nicole Teutschel at UC Santa Cruz, Long Marine Lab--Today Luis Huckstadt boarded the massive icebreaker US-chartered Russian ship R/V Yuzhmorgeologiya to start his 3-4 day journey across the Drake Passage into wild Antarctica. Luis, a PhD student in Dan Costa’s Lab, is embarking on a major expedition to the frigid, unforgiving Antarctic waterways: home to some of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth.

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