March 14, 2013

Finally news from Antarctica…

Summer time has been very busy and intense for me. It is the reproductive season for the adelie penguins, so all the research on them was going on between late October and mid February. It is also the period with sunshine most of the day, ideal to work outdoor! It was intense as I said, but also really interesting, and wonderful to observe those animals all season long. And also all the other species undertaking their reproduction on the Pointe Geologie Archipelago (petrels, skuas…).

My work on Adelies is almost over now, the chicks went to sea for their fist bath, and the pick of adult moult is over now. Consequently, the colonies seem really empty. Soon the emperor penguins will come back for their own reproduction. We saw few individuals in February coming and going near Petrel Island...

Summer time in Antarctica is also full of surprises: we saw a leopard seal during a week in February, eating adelies in the water, really impressive!
I also got the chance to help the other ornithologist to ring all the Cape petrels and snow petrels of the Archipelago. It just ended. A great experience!

At DDU (Dumont D’Urville base) rhythm during summer is given by the Astrolabe, the boat coming from Hobart (Tasmania) 5 times in 4 months to transport people, food, fuel and all we need to winter. This year has been particularly complicated apparently, as the boat got stuck 2 weeks on the icepack in December, on her way back to Hobart. Consequently the oceanographic expedition planned in January was cancelled, allowing the boat to catch up with her delay.

The boat left DDU on the 26th of February. We will see her again in November. We packed all the food necessary for the winter. We are ready for the winter to come!

We are now only the 25 persons, 23 boys and 2 girls who will stay together 9 months at DDU. The live at the base is progressively setting up. We get to know each other a bit more every day, enjoying the life here.

We can already feel that summer is behind us now, not only because we are only the 25 of us, but also because of the light decreasing a bit every day. We re-discovered night not so long ago. Such an impressive feeling to see the stars again! And the moon rising, and the need of artificial light to go from the living room to the dorm!(in my next post I’ll present you a bit more the different buildings we have here!). The cold is also coming back, and the ice on the ocean! It is whiter and whiter. We finally realize the great adventure we a part of, as summer time was too short and full of persons and work to really realize and take time to think of that.

More soon,


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