The last couple of weeks have mainly been defined by change. While the season has generally been poor weather wise (even by South Orkney standards) it definitely feels like the weather is slowly moving back towards winter. This along with the penguins chicks starting to leave and the Fur seals heading off as well has made the island feel even more wild. In amongst the normal routine of diet sampling penguins, counting chicks and trying to refurbish the base we also had our second call from the Ernest Shackleton. The second call is time for us to get some fresh food, a resupply or beer, some post and to use the Shackletons small boats to do some jobs that we wouldn’t manage normally. Not the Ernest Shackleton. This factory ship has been lurking around all season. Part of the long term study of penguins we are involved with may well stop krill fishing in Antarctic and put an end to these krill factories. Looking down on the North Point colonies on a rare sunny day. Guano is pink so you can easily spot the colonies.
The same Adelie colony at the start of the season.
Ernest Shackleton off Foca Cove. With the small boats from the Shackleton we managed to pull lots of the left over building materials out of the huts on the west side of the island and resupply them with fresh drinking water.
The other thing that happens at Second call is the Shackleton takes all our rubbish. The ton bags on the pier being loaded onto the cargo tender are the landfill, paper and plastic recycling from seven guys for just over two months. This does not include all the glass, metal and food waste. If you think packaging is bad in UK supermarkets, Antarctica is another level!
Ernest Shackleton dwarfed by bergs as it drops us off at another of the huts.
Sea ice building up in the bays around the island
Chilled out Fur seal. Most Fur seals are not chilled out. The ones that visit us on Signy are all the young males who have failed to build a harem further north so they tend to be young and angry. When they are chilled out I love their inquisitive faces.
Snow petrel chicks getting even fluffier
The other big change ahead of us is coming home. We were meant to have another month here but in fact the ship will be back for us a week on Friday. The last few days have been a bit of scramble as we all work out how to fit the most work into the last few days on the island.