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Open Water in Antarctic conservation

Posted by Conservators Apr 15, 2014

Author: Sue Bassett

Date: 09/04/2014

Temperature: -24 degrees C

Windspeed: None

Temperature with wind chill: -24 degrees C

Sunrise: 0905

Sunset: 1643

 

One of the highlights (so far) of this winter on the ice has been, without doubt, the opportunity to observe the effects of having open water in front of Scott Base. Usually a year-round frozen ice shelf, the open water has brought some spectacular sea mists and not just the usual populations of Weddell seals and Adelie penguins, but large numbers of killer whales and Emperor penguins (and even the occasional cruise ship!) … to literally right outside our windows. Beats television!

Morning sea mist.JPG

Morning sea mist

 

Cruise ship.JPG

A cruise ship takes advantage of the open water to take a closer look at Scott Base

 

 

Each day we have had the pleasure of watching a group of about 50 Emperors (all adolescent males, I'm told) huddle, fish, play, squawk, dive and scoot around (belly down) on the ice edge. And occasionally they'll take a long walk across the ice to what seems like nowhere in particular, usually in single file and in a very determined fashion, only to huddle for a while before returning again by foot or from beneath the ice through an open pool or crack. But, alas, as we head into our last fortnight of daylight before the austral winter darkness sets in, the sea now looks to have frozen over and, sadly for us (and perhaps also for them, as they may have been equally fascinated by the behaviours of Scott Base residents) the last of the Emperors have walked off … to somewhere else.

Emperors huddling.JPG

Huddling

 

Emperors off for a walk.JPG

Off for a walk

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On the fifth day, we saw the shores of South Georgia for the first time. We had the chance to go on land first time in Stromness Harbour, which contains the ruins of one of the many former whaling stations found in South Georgia. It was a great opportunity for us to collect our first samples. We also had a chance to admire some of the wildlife, that is so common for the shores of South Georgia.

 

Stromness Harbour is also famous for its importance in the rescue of the members of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition led by Sir Ernest H. Shackleton on the Endurance. Here in Stromness Bay, Shackleton's party finally reached the first human settlementafter their 36 day crossing of South Georiga, and could organise the rescue of the rest of the expedition members from Elephant Island.


IMG_7813.jpgFirst views of South Georgia

 

IMG_7841.jpgShackleton Valley

 

IMG_7832.jpgWater sampling of astreams that is fed by several meltwater streams running of the snow covered slopes of the surrounding valley


IMG_7825.jpgRuins of whaling station and moulting king penguins


IMG_7846.jpgGentoo penguins with chicks


IMG_7856.jpgFur seals and king penguins


IMG_7855.jpgFur seal pups

 

After visiting Stromness Harbour, we also had the chance to get on shore at Jason Harbour, where we were greetedby the as usual slighty grumpy fur seals. We also saw a blonde fur seal that are seals with very pale coloured fur, apparently 1 in 1000 seals is a blonde variant.

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IMG_8006.jpg

Jason Harbour


IMG_7986.jpg Blonde fur seal

 

We also saw some elephant seals. Many elephant seals molt during this time of the year and they love doing it by laying on top of each other in smelly mud holes, so called wallows. There were also plenty of reindeer in Jason Harbour, which were introduced to South Georgia during the whaling era.

 

IMG_8014.jpg


IMG_8007.jpgReindeer in Jason Harbour

 

We passed several incredible icebergs in between Stromness and Jason Harbour.


IMG_7927.jpg

IMG_7903.jpgIMG_7939.jpg

Icebergs in coastal water of South Georgia


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Cape Royds in Antarctic conservation

Posted by Conservators Nov 23, 2012

Author: Lizzie
Date: 1 Nov 2012
Temperature: -18.2C
Wind Speed: 0 knots
Temp with wind chill: -18.2°C
Sunrise: n/a
Sunset n/a
Photo Description & Credit 1: Mt Erebus in light and shadow c . Lizzie, AHT
Photo Description & Credit 2: Lizzie back inside the hut at Cape Royds

We’re back at Cape Royds after a year, this time just a short visit for 5 days to complete the annual maintenance and inspection programme. This year’s summer Antarctic Heritage Trust team consists of Jana (objects conservator, Canada), Martin (timber conservation carpenter, NZ), Kevin (timber conservation carpenter, UK) and myself (Programme Manager-Artefacts, AHT): a mix of skills, ages, nationalities and experience in both the Arctic and Antarctic.


There’s a list for me of things to do as soon as I get to Cape Royds:
1. Check the hut is OK after winter and spring storms…it is, bar a couple of things. We find a Colman’s flour box and a pony fodder box blown loose from their usual positions. In the case of the flour box it has been picked up by the wind from the south side of the building, rolled around the east side, and then blown a further 80m north of the building, where I spy it in its own lonesome wee drift of snow. Remarkably the box is completely undamaged despite its travels. Martin fixes it back more firmly in position on the south wall.


2. Say hello to the penguins…. It’s early in the season. Over at the rookery only a couple of hundred Adelie penguins are in and beginning the business of stone gathering – trotting back and forth with one stone at a time in their beaks.


3. Say hello to Mt Erebus – sometimes we see it, sometimes we don’t. Tthe day after we arrive, Erebus is playing hide and seek, high wind clouds shifting and stacking up in sharp curves, in and out of light.
DSC00856.JPG
4. Haul the gear up and over the hill ready for several days of snow digging, photography, minor repairs and treatments.


5. And last but not least, walk inside the hut, check all the artefacts are OK, drink in the smell, the light, the distinctive small sounds, and the incomparable atmosphere of this 1908 expedition base.
DSC01180.JPG

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The most southerly colony of Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) is located at Cape Royds. I have come to Antarctica for several years now, but I never had the chance to see a penguin colony. Therefore I am very excited to be at Cape Royds! The penguins come to Cape Royds every summer to breed and at the moment little penguin chicks can be seen everywhere.


Penguins seem to be very curious little fellows and we would see them wandering around in small groups all over Cape Royds.


                                                                                          Penguin colony at Cape Royds



                                                                           penguin1.jpg


                                                                                               A penguin is visiting us

                                                                               Penguin2.jpg

                                                                                                    Penguin chick

                                                                                     penguin3.jpg



                                                             

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Animal Attraction in Nature Live

Posted by Aoife Feb 17, 2010

Ah, Valentines Day. A day when red roses, gifts of chocolates, and lingering glances abound. Its all about showing the one you love, that you love them.

 

But what happens in the animal world?

 

There are lots of different ways that animals attract and win a mate. Some of them are similar to what humans, do, and others are..umm..slightly different.

 

In the deep sea, its so hard to find a significant other that when the male angler fish finds the lady of his dreams, he never lets go. Special nostrils help him detect her in the blackness down in the depths, then he gives her a little nip, latches on, and stays put. Over time, he actually fuses with her, sharing her blood supply and nutrients. Together forever!

 

The Adele Penguin inhabits one of the coldest regions on Earth: Antarctica! So when the males think they have found someone to snuggle up to, they will present them with some beautiful shiny stones, to build their nest with. Together, they will raise their family, but actually they don't see much of each other after wooing and mating; each takes turns watching the nest, so its only when they swap over that they meet up.

 

And finally; spiders! These amazing creatures have so many different ways of attracting and winning the lady of their dreams, and not surprising. Firstly, with so many thousands of species out there, you have to get it right. Secondly, its a dangerous game for the males - put a foot wrong, and they may end up a dinner for the lady! So some species will do a special dance, waving their colourful legs around, others like Tarantulas will soothingly stroke the females long, lovely, hairy legs, and other species give the spider equivalent of a box of chocolates; a nice big juicy fly wrapped in silk. Mmmmmm delicious!

 

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Spider curator Jan Beccaloni and Ana Rita.