09 April 2007

Post Easter Seals

Hi All,
It's been a busy past few days, even though we had a two day weekend. We normally work six 9-hour days per week, but the first weekend of every month we get a two day weekend to recuperate, and do fun stuff like island hopping or just taking naps. On Saturday a group of us took a Zodiac over to Old Palmer Station, which was built in 196
5 to house the Navy personnel who were assigned to build the "new" Palmer Station where I currently reside. Our station was completed in 1968. All that's left of Old Palmer is the foundation and bits of debris, and the only inhabitants there are fur seals and lots of skuas. We walked around the ruins for a bit, then walked down towards Arthur Harbor to see the ice arch pictured below.

When I first came here to Palmer in 2000, the area immediately behind the arch was covered by the Marr glacier that you can see in the left background. It's since receded approximately 400 yards, and you can now boat on water and walk on ground which was covered over by a massive layer of ice just seven years ago. To me this is an amazing, first hand example of the effects of climate change. It's having a very profound effect on the glaciers, ice shelves, and wildlife all along the Antarctic Peninsula.
After leaving Old Palmer, we decided to ride out to Hermit Island, which is a really good place for seeing whales and other critters. However, on the way we spotted a group of seabirds congregating in and above the waters about 1 kilometer from station. We headed that way to see what the commotion was all about, and were amazed to see yet another Leopard seal attack! We floated around for a bit to watch the Lep devour its meal, and then headed on to Hermit Island, where we walked around for awhile and saw lots of seals, including a Weddell Seal which was kind enough to pause for a few photos on Easter Day.

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