The entire 2018 Antarctica Field Team for the Erebus Bay Weddell Seal Population Dynamics Project has arrived on The Ice!
"We’re all on the ice now and hope to get camp out on Monday - after a lengthy weather delay, things are improving rapidly," notes lead project scientist Professor Jay Rotella of the Montana State University-Bozeman Ecology Department.
Four members of the 2018 Field Team celebrate their first steps on the Ice of the season in the photo below...
One of the Project's longtime researchers and field crew leaders, Kaitlin Macdonald, successfully defended her Master of Science degree at MSU very recently and successfully submitted her final thesis the day before she headed south to Antarctica to begin this 2018 Weddell seal pupping season!
We want to congratulate Kaitlin (shown in the photo below by 2018 field team specialist Shane Petch getting off the plane this season in Antarctica) on her hard-earned and well-deserved accomplishment! She will receive her Master of Science degree in December, 2018 and continue on the Weddell Seal Project as a Ph.D. student beginning in January of this season. Congratulations Kaitlin!
In the photo below, 2018 Antarctica Field Team members from left to right: Jesse DeVoe, Shane Petch, Victor Villalobos, Kit Cunningham, Kaitlin Macdonald, and Alissa Anderson. Photo by Jesse DeVoe.
Also a member of the 2018 Field Team this season is photographer extraordinaire William Link of the US Geological Survey, whose Weddell photos from a previous season were spectacular and the story went completely viral. Longtime Field Team Member, Crew Leader, and recipient of an M.S. from MSU Jesse DeVoe is also back this season! Jesse's imaging is simply superb, as is his wonderful Aspiring Ecologist Blog which we hope he starts up again soon this season!
Among the many tasks the field team accomplishes near the beginning of the season is the sorting, counting, and assembling of the small tags that are affixed to the hind flippers of this population of Weddell seals. In the photo above the members of the 2018 field team are prepping the tags in the utility loading dock near the project's work lab. This season represents 50 years of this very project gathering data on these seals, resulting in a longterm population data set that is unique in the scientific community. The Weddell population project has the distinction of the very early-assigned science group designation, B-009.
In an upcoming field blog post we'll introduce you to the entire 2018 Antarctica Team! We expect this to be another fascinating Erebus Bay Weddell seal pupping season and encourage viewers to check back regularly for new updates, science stories, new project scientific publications, fantastic imagery from the Team on the Ice, and much much more!