Friday, January 01, 2010

First Critters!

A Weddell seal outside of the SCINI open house.

In early December, the SCINI group, held an open house down by the transition to let us drive their remotely operated underwater robot. Just past their hut, a seal was basking in the afternoon sun. While I had seen other seals this season, this is the first one I was able to get close to. It did what they always do when they are out of the water, lay there. Sometimes, they'll wiggle or roll, but when they are sunbathing, they usually don't move and really aren't that exciting. Out of the water, I like to think of them as sea slugs. In the water, they are a completely different creature.

"We're late! We're late! For a very important date! No time to say hello, goodbye! We're late, we're late, we're late!".

The other encounter that I was excited about, other than my skua attack, was my first penguin sighting of the year. At the end of our work day, my coworker saw some dots on the sea ice runway. He thought they might have been people, but a quick look in the telescope showed otherwise. I grabbed my hiking gear and headed out to see them.

Unfortunately, we didn't get too close. They might not have been curious about us because they were late for a very important date. A few hours later, a friend saw them still on the Pegasus road heading towards our runway. Maybe they had a plane to catch. All I really know is that whenever Adelie penguins walk, they look like they are in a hurry.

This is the penguin experience we all want when penguins are curious enough to come to us (photo by C. Linder).


  1. Whos the guy in the tux and did they walk straight up the guy or did he walk up to them? This is just so cute!

  2. He did not walk up to the penguins. I don't know the exact wording of the Antarctic treaty, but basically we can't approach to the point where they interact with us. They have to approach us. Those penguins were curious, for whatever reason, and walked up to him. Sometimes they do it, sometimes they don't.

  3. Oh what a delightful experience to have the penguins come up to you that closely. I only get to see penguins at the aquarium...but they're not the emperor penguins you guys have there.

    By the way, you know anything about this: ??