Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May 14 - Goodbye Palmer

The bags are packed and the linen, washed. The ship leaves tomorrow AM, but everybody who is leaving has already moved onto the ship today. The morning was a mad rush to clean our rooms, wash  the linen, clean the Lab and just look out and take it all in for one last time.  Actually, last time for me but many of the folks are regulars who will be coming back to Palmer or going to McMurdo or South Pole in the near future.

Has been an unbelievable experience; the people here are really nice, and extremely good at what they do. The surroundings are indescribably beautiful. I feel privileged to have been given a chance to spent time here.  I wish my family, friends and students could see and experience this place for themselves, but I know that very few, if any, will get the opportunity. Have therefore tried to take everybody along for the ride with me through this blog. Hope it was enjoyable!

A few pictures taken in the last two days.

A small pod of fur seals hanging out near the station

The "Pteropoders"

A large tabular iceberg seen from the top of the glacier. This one should get its own zipcode!

Another beautiful sunset

Yesterday was a beautiful full moon!

The LMG at the pier ready to depart tomorrow AM.

And to end it all, I am going back in style(?). My berth is in the cargo hold inside what is jokingly called the "man-can"; 5 bunks jammed into a converted Milvan cargo container! The things one has  to do for science! On the positive side, if we hit bad weather, the cargo hold experiences the least roll!

Signing off.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

May 10 - Leopard Seal Encounter

The highlight of the day was the Leopard Seal encounter that played out near the station.
Early in the day, people notices some commotion in the water about 200M away. Turned out to be an Leopard Seal taking down what was probably a juvenile elephant seal. A group of people were out on a Zodiac and they manged to get some closeups of the encounter. The pictures below have been taken by Michiel.
The only picture which shows the elephant seal in the mouth of the Leopard

At one point, the Leopard lunged at the birds that were fluttering around the carcass! Very mush like a leopard on land chasing vultures!

Towards the end of the hunt!

All done!

Later in the day, the same Leopard (most probably) floated past the station on piece of ice. After a hunt, these animal nap for a while to digest the food.

You can see how close it is to land!

Scary looking animals. Looks like a stubby anaconda!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

May 6 - Bonaparte III

Weather was gorgeous right from get go and just on my "morning commute" from the dorm to the Lab, I  saw a spectacular sunrise, a leopard seal and a beautiful iceberg -- all omens that today might be a good day to go for a hike.

Checked the weather info. during lunch -- no wind, lots of sun and a rising pressure; perfect! Set out right after a quick lunch at 1 PM.
This picture shows the path up the glacier that is marked by flags on each sides. The area outside the flags is a no-go zone dues to crevasses.

Bonaparte was littered with fur seals. So many that we almost bumped into a couple of them. They can be quite ornery if you get too lose to them. barking and snorting and hissing! I would be pissed too if somebody woke me up from a deep sleep.

In front of a fur seal

Little colony of Giant Petrel Chicks

Found these two Gentoos climbing up the glacier! Not sure why, but after a while they kind of looked at each other(!) and decided to head back down.

Interesting looking piece of ice left on a little outcrop. My first thought was that it look like a woman holding a baby.

May 4 - Ordinary to Sublime in 30 minutes

Day started out wet, but by the time lunch time rolled out, it was dry, and the wind had calmed down a little bit. Decided to take a chance and head out for a walk in the backyard. The Arthur Bay, which is right behind Palmer, narrows down to a little area surrounded by glaciers and I always wanted to see how far I could go towards the end of the bay. Well, today was the day to find out .. and what a discovery - my day went from ordinary to sublime in the 30 minutes it took me to get there.  Check it out -

The end point of Arthur Bay

  -- Not able to upload the movies right now because of bandwidth so check again later.--

Just taking it all in!
Sitting on the dock of the bay.. wasting time!
Fantastic song from Otis Redding.. one of my all time favorites !  could not get it out of my mind!

A cute Gentoo that was getting ready for bed. Didn't seem to mind me at all,


Saturday, May 3, 2014

May 3 - Whimsical

Today was the first day of a 2-day weekend here at Palmer. Usually, the Palmer crew has a 6 day work-week with Sunday off. However, because they have all been working extra hours due to the LMG coming in and out so often over these last three weeks, they declared this a two day weekend. Everybody is in a very lethargic mood (reminds me of those seals on Kristy Cove!) and most people are just huddled up with their books, computers or crosswords (crosswords are very big here!) or just watching movies in the lounge. The weather has also been very inviting today -- damp, windy and chilly.

Anyway, have not managed to get out at all today and take any new pictures so I thought I would just post a few random pics from past few days.

Captured this volcanic eruption near the station. Nah! Just the sun setting behind some clouds.

Even the ordinary looks sublime! Just a regular non-spectacular(?) sunset over the water.

A Sheath Bill. Opportunistic birds that are willing to eat anything. Kind of like the crows of the Antarctic. They recently named a cove in the area after this bird.

Notice the white spec between the rock and large seal? This is the head of a Sheath Bill that was busy pecking away at a wound on the seal. Quite unpleasant! I have closeups of the scene but I am sure most people will not want to see them!
Nature's  Ice-sculpting ! Found this piece of floating ice that looked like a swan.

May 2 - Rocks Defying Gravity -- Only in Antarctica!

Took this just off the back deck of the bio lab. No funny stuff.. just a video show large boulders floating in the water!  These are not dark pieces of ice -- these are true-to-life boulders. Not very difficult to figure out what's going on, right?

Friday, May 2, 2014

April 28 - Fish Dreams and Yogic Breathing

The weather was iffy (little bit of wind) and the pressure was going down -- all indications that perhaps a system was moving in. However the sun was out and I decided to pack a small lunch and some hot coffee and make a solo hike back to the Cove of Eden (officially call Kristy's Cove) over   on Bonaparte Point. Left at 11:30- got back around 2 PM.  Actually the weather held up and I got some great views of wildlife.

Seemed liked siesta time on Baonaparte.. Every seal I came across (except for some juveniles Elephants seals in the water) was in deep slumber. This was nice because they were least bothered by me and I was able to get closer than usual and just observe them in silence without disturbing them.

Got to Kristy Cove and found a nice spot among the rocks; had my lunch and then just spent a divine 45 minutes observing and clicking away.

Unlike our previous visit, I found many fur seals on Bonaparte point. Fur seals generally stake out solitary spots among the rocks and chill out there for many hours before returning back to the sea. They are very jumpy and get really upset and start barking if you happen to get too close.  However these guys chilling our on the beach did not give me a second look.

Found this fur seal on the snow "beach" around Kristy's cove trying to bundle itself into a nice compact ball of fur. Nice to be able to carry your own little sleeping bag with you!

 The cove off course had its pod of elephant seals and I got some great views of them.

 Fish Dreams! Found this one male dozing off and I could swear that it was dreaming of something -- seems to move and shuffle and snort every one in a while. E. seals apparently dive down over 1000m and hunt for squid, rays, skates and small sharks. No wonder they need their rest when they come back up.
Yogic Breathing! Noticed that this large male was only breathing through its left nostril for a long time. Perhaps the seals know the advantage of alternate nostril breathing (Nadisuddhi prāṇāyāma)?

Found this cute juvenile who was trying to "kill" a piece of kelp. These youngsters are constantly exploring,  fussing and fighting. Many (like this one) have quite significant wounds from these fights.

This young one got into the little ice cave at the end of Kristy Cove and was trying to reach up and eat the snow. Hilarious!

Finish with a little movie titled "Itching and Sliding"