As the first flight landed on the Pegasus ice runway, the winfly season officially came to a close. It was a challenging but productive first phase of the season, but now it’s time to move on to Phase 2! Our goal for the mainbody season is to study how these seals can navigate under the ice with amazing accuracy even in a completely new location. Imagine being dropped in the middle of a field and needing to navigate your way to and from a spot a kilometer away while blindfolded. Not only are these seals accomplishing this dozens of times a day, but they are holding their breath while doing it! Their survival depends on how accurately they can navigate the underwater environment.
Over the last two seasons we have been mapping the local magnetic fields where our camps are set up. To study their homing ability, we will release our volunteer seals in three geomagnetically unique and isolated holes to see how they respond to different magnetic landscapes.
The first thing we have to do is set up additional camps for the new study and drill some new holes. Instead of our single camp to work out of, we will now have 3 separate locations. We moved our experimental hut to hole #1 and set up a new hut at hole #2. The RAC tent and cook hut will still be used as our base camp at hole #3.
In addition to winfly, night in the Antarctic is also coming to an end. Soon the sun will stop setting and remain above the horizon until March. We’ve been fortunate to see some amazing sunrises and sunsets while out on the ice!