The remote sea ice camp has been pulled out to the camp site on the sea ice at Big Razorback Island in Erebus Bay and is ready for move-in, reports M.S. student and research field team co-crew leader Kaitlin Macdonald. "We had a great day getting camp set up and plan to occupy camp tomorrow." Photos by Kaitlin Macdonald, unless noted otherwise.
The 4 wooden fish huts that make up the sea ice camp where the team will live and work over the season has been set up on the sea ice at Big Razorback Island, one of the Dellbridge Islands in Erebus Bay, Antarctica. The Dellbridge Islands are the remains of an old volcano cauldron, and are home to several of the Weddell seal pupping colonies, including the pupping colony at Big Razorback Island.
Below is a satellite map of the Weddell seal population study area showing the numerous Weddell seal pupping colonies in the study area, and the location of the Big Razorback field camp.
As the field team is moving out to camp, they are finishing up some essential training and briefing sessions. Below, McMurdo Field Safety Coordination Ben Adkison briefs the team on sea ice conditions and safety, below.
Here is the most recent sea ice map from Brad Herried of the Polar Geospatial Center (GPC) showing the location of some of the sea ice routes, project huts, ice cracks, and the edge of the sea ice, which is further north this year than last.
In the photo below, project field team members Laura McDuffie and Ben Turnock map out the study area themselves to become more familiar with it.
The next big job for the research field team is to set flags to designate safe routes to the pupping colonies around the study area. They will first determine safe routes, then set a series of flags to follow for safe snowmobile access. In the photo below, Terrill Paterson, Jamie Brusa, and James Waxe organize the flags at the sea ice camp that will be used for setting safe routes. A Pisten Bully can be seen in the background. The Pisten Bully is one of the main travel vehicles used by sea ice field teams. However, most of the sea ice travel by the project field team will be by snowmobile in order to access the pupping colonies with more agility.
Training in the care and operation of Pisten Bullies is one of the essential training sessions for the field team. Below, Jamie Brusa and James Waxe learn how to care for and drive a Pisten Bully during the training session.
Finally, the sea ice camp will stow food and beverages for the research field team. Food items are selected during the "food pull" at McMurdo Station, and stowed in accessible locations at the sea ice camp. Here are Ben Turnock and Jamie Brusa boxing some of the food destined for camp.
- Mary Lynn Price