The waiting game

Sometimes the hardest thing to do as a scientist, is nothing at all. Now that we have two seals instrumented and deployed there is nothing we can do but wait. First for the 48 hours to finish so we can open the outside holes, and second, for our seals to get tired of swimming and decide to surface. All we can do is keep the ice holes clear and open, and watch for a GPS hit to tell us they are on the surface.

After a few days, we at least found proof that Luke Seal-walker was still around when half of a 5+ foot long fish showed up in hole 3. Apparently ice holes work well for cold-storage!

After 3 days of waiting we finally got a hit. Han Seal-o had surfaced! We geared up quickly and headed out to hole 2 to find him waiting patiently on the ice for us. After downloading the data from his instruments, we moved Han to hole 1 where he dove right in after a quick look around his new home.

Now that he was collecting data from his second hole, we were back to waiting. In 48 hours we would open the outside hole, but until then we were keeping a close eye out for Luke to come out and enjoy the sunny weather!

The weather continued to cooperate with us and stay clear, so 48 hours later we opened the outside hole at camp 1. This time we didn’t have to wait long. Less than a day later GPS hits started coming in. It looked like Han Seal-o was ready for his final hole. As we looked at the GPS identifiers though, we got even more good news. Luke Seal-walker was on the ice as well!

It was a busy day, but well worth it to have both seals moved on to their next holes. Han Seal-o was in his final data collection at hole 3 and Luke Seal-walker was on to his second at hole 1.

It was another long 48 hours of waiting, but it paid off. Soon after opening the escape hole at hole 3. Sometimes it feels like we are waiting forever, and other times everything moves smoothle. Han Seal-o was back on the ice before we even made it back to town! Still, any work on the ice shelf requires planning and preparation. We re-fueled and geared back up to de-instrument and release Han. This also meant we were ready for our 3rd seal of phase 2, and on our way back from the release our luck was holding. We found one waiting for us near the Erebus Glacier Tongue! Our 3rd seal of mainbody was only a few kilograms larger than Luke, but was much faster. He was eager to get started and crawled into the RAC tent without any hesitation before settling down. He kept looking back over his shoulder to watch us prep the instruments and his curiosity, eagerness, and size quickly earned him the name Yoda (the seal). Yoda was soon instrumented and collecting data for us at hole 3!

As week 9 came to a close we received more good news as Luke Seal-walker hauled out onto the ice. By Saturday night we had our first seal finished, our second seal on his last hole, and our third seal almost finished with his first hole. There was a lot of moving and waiting, but it had been a productive 2 weeks!

Week 10: Our final 2 seals

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