Catching up with a recent writing from Terrill Paterson, field research team leader and Montana State University PhD student:
I just wanted to send a brief update about our last week. Things are really picking up in our study area, with more and more pups being born every day. The first pups of the year were born at Big Razorback Island (the 14th, NZ time), and more and more moms are out at Hutton Cliffs, Turtle Rock, Tent Island and Turk's Head. For the first time in what I believe to be many years, we can safely drive to the North Base of Erebus Glacial Tongue without support from FSTP (now called FS&T).
Thus far, we have tagged a few dozen pups and are completely caught up in our study area. We were hutbound for a day and a half due to a pretty awesome storm (during which Michael [Yarnall] and I had to drill emergency anchors on the outhouse to keep it from blowing away), but spent a very long day today getting caught up in the Dellbridge Islands, and at Hutton and Turtle Rock. I have so far coerced seven moms to get on the weigh sled (we have the associated photogrammetry projects) and it looks like we may be able to get three more tomorrow. I currently have a nice assortment of ages for our weighers, with a few 5 to 10 years olds, and a few 20 plus. The driving conditions are such that we can get the [weigh] sled all the way to Turtle Rock (it just costs me and one other crew member a bit of time). We are also on schedule with our temperature tagging effort; I deployed the fifteenth tag this afternoon on a very young pup at Turtle Rock.
Most remarkable for me, the sea ice at Hutton is spectacularly different from last year. Gone are all of the pressure ridges and multiyear sea ice hummocks. It is flat, first year ice all the way to Hutton and a great deal of the way to South Base. The crew worked a hard afternoon getting caught up at Hutton, and it was a bit of a relief that they did not have to contend with ice-related hazards as they are trying to learn and keep up with all the different goals and projects for B009.