Tag Archives: Fur Seal

Second Call of the Shack

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.931A5485 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.931A5488 Looking down on the North Point colonies on a rare sunny day.  Guano is pink so you can easily spot the colonies.

Deserted Adelie colonies at Gourlay931A9196

The same Adelie colony at the start of the season.

931A5493

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sea ice building up in the bays around the island

931A5505

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

Posted in Adelie Penguin, alastair rose, ali rose, Antarctica, BAS, British Antarctic Survey, Ernest Shackleton, Field Assistant, Field Assistant Antarctica, Field Guide, Field Guide Antarctica, mountains to the sea, mountainstothesea, Penguin, Signy, Signy Research Station, South Orkney Islands Also tagged , , , , , , , |

Signy Huts

Despite Signy island being quite small (six kilometres by three) we do have a collection of small huts we can use for over-nights, science work or just stopping in for a cup of tea.  These help us not have to carry too much stuff as they all have bunks with sleeping bags and a basic stock of food and fuel.
931A0797-HDR

Foca hut at sunset.  Foca is on the west coast of the island and has the most overnights stays throughout the year.  The West coast of the island has a lot of Southern Giant Petrel nests along with Gentoo Penguins and Blue Eyed Shags at the Northern Tip.931A0786

Tom, Tim and Fabrizio waiting for the kettle to boil inside Foca.

931A5363Blue Eyed Shags with chicks at North Point.

931A3378Tim checking his notes in Foca hut.  This is the nicest hut by far with four bunks behind tim in a separate area.  As of this season it even has a deck!
931A9606

Mike snowshoeing down to Cummings hut.  Cummings is in the South West of the island and surrounded by an area that is pretty difficult to get to by Skidoo with lots of steep hanging coires and “big” ridges.  There are some Chinstrap colonies that we visit South of Cummings and we do periodic litter surveys in various bays on this coast.931A9611Cummings Hut under a leaden sky.  Cummings cove feels very remote and the hut is lovely on the outside but very basic on the inside.  Sadly it will probably be replaced by a tin shed in the next couple of years.

Kettle on in Cummings hut

Iain waiting for his cup of tea.  Theres so little space in the hut its better to wait outside.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Tom and Iain inside Waterpipe hut.  Waterpipe is the closest to base and can clearly be seen across the bay.  Despite being so close to get there you either have to cross the shallows at low tide or go the long way round via the ice cap making really useful should you get y0ur timings or the weather forecast wrong.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Iain and Tom working on the roof of Waterpipe hut.  The base can just be seen in the top right of the photo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Iain and Tom walking out of the shallows on the way back from Waterpipe hut with the icecap above them.  You can see a group of Fur seals on the left side of the photo – there are hundreds of them on the coast of the island just now making some days fairly terrifying!

931A5445

Polar bear?  Nope – its a blonde Fur seal.  About one in five hundred are blonde this one was the most relaxed I’ve seen and wasnt bothered by Tim and I at all.

931A9691 The Gourlay huts.  The Gourlay peninsular is a couple of kilometres away and somewhere we visit every second day at least.  The hut on the left is a standard hut with a couple of bunks and the one of the right is the work hut.  Its a welcome relief most days to have somewhere out of the wind to work or have a cup of tea.931A0181

Tim and Fabrizio in the work hut.

931A5421Snow Petrel Chick in his nest.  This is on the way out of base where you can hear him chirping away, or spitting if you get too close!

Posted in ali rose, Antarctica, BAS, British Antarctic Survey, Field Assistant, Field Assistant Antarctica, Field Guide, Field Guide Antarctica, mountains to the sea, mountainstothesea, Signy, Signy Research Station Also tagged , , , , , , , , , |