Day 31 – An unexpected visit   5 comments

So today we went out to Cape Bernacchii to try and finish off sampling out of that hole. Cecil and I dove and collected sediment scoops for Jan. Our dive was very successful. We obtained so much sediment for Jan’s DNA sampling that we only have coring left. And on a high note, I also found the largest Cornuspira antarcticus (which is a foraminiferan) that Jan had ever seen from Antarctica. It’s crazy because these are a single celled animal that grows usually to the size of a dime or quarter. This one was the size of a 50 cent piece.

After the dive, we went through the normal exit procedures: hand up the tank, hand up the weight, haul your self out of the hole on your stomach, and pull your fins off. Once I’m out, I’ll usually get back over to my tank and inflate my suit to warm up. Today I was being helped out of my gloves by Laura, when Jan, who was pulling up the down line, yells at the hole, ” no, don’t take my samples”. Laura and I turn to see this fat head popping out of the water.

We stayed and watched two seals take turns breathing. The seals were so fat that they had to go one at a time up the hole. Even with that, sometimes they didn’t look like they would fit. Eventually, after they had their breaths, they swam off. These seals were Weddell seal and are some of the best diving marine mammals for depth and time.

Right when it popped up the first time

Cecil and I went to change out of our suits before we froze into them. Just after we got out of the dry suit, still in our fleece layers, we heard Laura yelling. Cecil and I put on our boots and headed out side. We got there and one seal was back and starting to haul out of the hole. It hauled out and started galumping over to the ice, looking for a patch of snow to dry off. To prevent freezing their fur, seals will rub and roll around in the snow. This pulls the moisture from their fur.

Overall this was an amazing experience that will stay with me for a life time.





Posted November 4, 2011 by dwoodward707 in New Harbor

5 responses to “Day 31 – An unexpected visit

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  1. Wow! Such a great story. What you are doing is so inspiring!

  2. Danielle, What wonderful pictures and what a fabulous experience. I will share your new photos with my class next week.
    This is one AMAZING adventure!!
    Oh yeah, the class was bummed that there are no sharks down there. They will love the seal photos though.
    We send lots of hugs and kisses.
    Aunt Deb, Uncle Giorgio, John and Alessia

  3. Sending Love from Aunt Val and Uncle Stu

    Stuart and Valerie Woodward
  4. Hi D, not only is this interesting, fascinating, it’s truly educational! I’m learning as you tell your true-to-life stories. I watched this video about seal pups presented by Women in Antarctica which was helpful:

    And then I learned about your new friends:

    Not every animal can stand the freezing cold water of the Antarctic, but the seals of Antarctica can because of its 2-4 inches of thick blubber. They stay by shore and live close to packs of ice. The pups are even born on ice during April or May. Even though they live in water they still can’t stay under water for their whole lifetime, so they come up out of water every 2 minutes. The seals of Antarctica look like a manatee but they have a big snout. Its size is a little smaller than a dolphin. The seals can be gray, brown, or black.

    But seals of Antarctica eat shrimp, crab, clams, snails, cod, and even penguin pups. They can eat 10 pounds a day but they can hardly even taste it because they don’t have any taste buds.The seals’ whiskers (just like your Dad’s) are called vibrassae and they help the seals find prey. Since the seals eat so much, the male can weigh up to 250 pounds.

    The scientists have found out many things about Antarctic seals. One of the interesting facts is that the seals put their flippers to their sides to help steer. Another fact is that seal scat, which is their waste matter, helps scientists research. Scientists can also sell them to other research companies. The seal may weigh a lot, but it can swim up to 11 miles per hour. When they’re swimming they have to close their ears so water doesn’t go into their body. One of the interesting ways that scientists study seals is by putting a camera on the seal’s back to find out what they do under water.

    Ah, but not to be so serious, here’s your seal joke of the day… (sorry, they’re getting flip (get it)):

    Q: Where do seals go to see movies?
    A: The dive-in!

    What’s it sound like at night?

  5. Pingback: Diving under the Ice

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