After all of the waiting around our team and field season started to hit its stride. Even the seals and weather seemed eager to cooperate! We opened hole 3 for Yoda the seal on Sunday and early Monday morning he was out on the ice. After downloading and reattaching the instruments we released him into hole 1 to continue collecting data. Before heading back to McMurdo, we opened the outside hole at camp 2 for Luke Sealwalker. He didn’t make us wait long though. Wednesday morning, he was out on the surface, and, after removing the instruments, he was done with our study! We now had two full sets of data from all 3 holes.
The next day we went back out to open hole 1. Yoda was again eager to move forward and was on the ice that same afternoon. We wasted no time in prepping him for his last hole, and soon had him in hole 2 for his last deployment.
Now it was time to find volunteer number 4. We drove north along the Hut Point Peninsula and soon found a good candidate lounging out on the ice. When he barked at a nearby seal , we knew we had the perfect name for him. He sounded just like Chewbacca! After transporting him back to camp and instrumenting him we were ready to deploy him in hole 1. Soon Chewy was busy collecting data for us!
Saturday meant it was time to open the hole for Yoda for the last time. True to form, we hadn’t even passed Camp 3 by the time he was on the surface. We had our third full data set and were ready to find our fifth and last seal of the season!
Our luck held as we were dropping off Yoda and we found our final volunteer waiting for us by Tent Island. While he wasn’t our biggest seal, he was by far our laziest. As soon as we had him back in camp he settled in and took a nap. His heavy breathing earned him the name Seal-o Ren, and we were soon done instrumenting and moving him to hole 2 for his first deployment. We quickly learned, however, that a lazy seal is a double-edged sword. Seal-o Ren was in no rush to do anything and, instead of going for a swim, decided to lounge by the heater and take a nap once inside the hut. All we could do was watch and wait.
Surprisingly we had some visitors to keep us company as we waited. A few Adelie penguins came wandering through camp. After a quick pause to see what we were up to they continued on their way, waddling and tobogganing towards the ice edge north of camp. Eventually Seal-o Ren woke up, and, seemingly refreshed from his nap, decided he was ready for a swim.
Waiting around made for a long day, but it was worth it! We had 3 full sets of data from all 3 holes, and our last 2 seals were deployed. There was still a lot to do, but we were making good progress!