May 26, 2007
The seal team's goal was to get 3 CTD tags out this week on seals, and if possible, get 2 GPS tags on also. Being hampered by the weather and elusive seals, the team was getting concerned, could we see a seal before noon (operations will end at noon)? The seal team had glued on 2 CTD tags, and with only this morning to work, it looked as though the third tag was not going to get on. At the last hour, Samantha Simmons, a UC Santa Cruz PhD student, was the hero of the day. At 11:30 am, Samantha spotted a crabeater seal on a small ice flow. After a quick lunch, the boat was lowered, and off we went to tag a seal. Going through the ice took about 20 minutes to get to the seal. Our marksman, Gitta, aimed and shot. The dart misfired and she quickly reloaded and darted the seal. Now we wait, 30 minute,s and this does seem like a long time. We assessed the flow, boarded it, netted the seal and I jumped on, bracing for a wild ride. As expected, the seal did start to thrash around. I was on the head and getting tossed pretty good until Patrick Robinson jumped on my back thus immobilizing the seal for a minute. Once the seal was anesthetized, the work was performed, and the tag glued on. We had tagged our third seal.
Even though I am just a helper, I was as happy as the real seal team. Everyone had huge smiles as we made our way back to the ship. They call themselves Seal Team #2, and the fact their goal was accomplished was heart warming. This experience for me will never be duplicated. Catching a seal on a small chunk of ice in the Antarctic Ocean still is really surreal. I did it, but I still have a hard time believing I did it.
The weather was clear and sunny, I do love the sun. What a great day to work. We went through the Lemaire Channel (beauty beyond words) on our way back to Palmer. Smiling, feeling good and a little tired, and back into the Jacuzzi tub for me. This old boy is feeling the effects of wrestling two 600 pound seals. Sailing on.