Thursday, July 25, 2013

Antarctic Antics

Hi Sea Fans!

Yes, I got the chance of a lifetime, I got to go to Antarctica!  Thanks to Becs and Sabrina for hosting me...what an adventure!  Becs works for the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge as their Aquarium Facilities Manager and her job is to look after all the research animals that are brought back from Antarctica. To get an idea as to what goes on at the base in Antarctica, Becs and I went down to see what the researchers do down there and what the base is like.

To get to the remote parts of Antarctica and collect important scientific data, you can't just book a flight, pack some winter woolies and head south.  Antarctica is an extreme and hostile place and you need to prepare carefully, have specialist training and make sure you've got all the right gear packed.
Go to this site to see what goes into organising for a trip down south:

We got all our ducks in a row and off we went!  Here are the first few photos from my trip:

View of the base from the airoplane cockpit/
To get an idea of what it feels like to be in Antarctica, go to this link to hear some Antarctic sounds:

Plane leaving the base.
Antarctic landscape.
And if you think it looks cold're right!!  Check out how many layers the researchers have to wear when they go there by going to this link:

Becs in a boat suit.
As you can see, it's not just a T-shirt and shorts kind of place! : )  This was when Becs and I went in the rubber duck with the researchers...brrrrrrrr!

Another way they get around in Antarctica...not a car, but a snow mobile.
Once we'd settled in, we were given a run down as to what goes on at the base and then we were invited to go crevassing.  Crevassing you say?  Well, if you've never heard of it, it's abseiling (lowering yourself down on a rope) down a huge crack which means that you're surrounded by ice...brrrrrrrr again!

Becs in the crevasse about to go down on the rope.

Becs abseiling down.

Me on the way down.
I must say, I got quite a bit of exercise visiting Antarctica. 

Hiking over ice and abseiling means you need a lot of gear.
Not only did I get to see beautiful landscapes,
but I also got to see some of the wildlife there.
Adelie penguin.
 These guys are just too cute, but there are also Chinstrap, Emperor, Gentoo, King and Macaroni penguins here.  What a huge variety!  There are also a range of other birds, from the almighty albatross to the petrels, prions, fulmars and shearwaters...but I'll tell you more about them another time.

Weddell, Southern Elephant, Ross, Crabeater,
Crabeater seal.
 Antarctic fur,
Fur seal.
and Leopard seals can all be found down south.  Of the 6 Antarctic species, 4 are ice habitat specialists, breeding on the sea ice (Beyond the ice shelves is the sea. When the sea freezes it forms a salty type of ice, sea ice.) in spring.  Leopard and Ross seals tend to be solitary (they like to be alone and not in groups), whereas the Weddell and Crabeater seals form breeding groups.  Antarctic fur seals and Elephant seals both breed in dense colonies on beaches where dominant males (bulls) have harems (groups) of females (cows) in territories.  Whilst they are very busy defending their harems, bulls won't forage at sea, but rather rely on the blubber reserves from the previous winter.  Interesting stuff don't you think?

Well, I think that's me for today, I'm getting writer's cramp from typing so much (I was e-mailing my family back home before this and had to catch up on some work stuff too).

Chat soon Sea Fans!
Have a great week...and weekend.
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