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4 December, 2001

Dec 4th- Another Creature!

Yesterday I told you that I saw another living creature. It was a seal! On the way back from Cape Royds on Sunday, there was a Weddell seal lying on the sea ice. Recently a group of scientists drilled a hole into the ice to take water samples. This seal found the hole and came out of it to rest. We got off of our snowmobile and looked at him. He was huge! This seal did not look like he was hurting for food.

Then today, I noticed a seal on the sea ice right here in McMurdo! Again there was a hole drilled by scientists, and this seal found it. I walked out to him and took lots of pictures. He was sleeping when I approached. He would open his eyes when I moved and then close them again as if he were too tired to care. His breathing was loud but slow. It sounded like deep sighs. At one point the seal used his flipper to scratch the side of his head! It was amazing to be in front of this creature. I didn't get as close to him as I did the Adelie penguin, because I have heard that seals move a lot faster than we think they can. They weigh a lot and have sharp teeth.

Weddell seals are known for their plumpness. They often weigh over 800 lbs and are nine feet long! These seals live farther south than any other mammal. The seal pups are born during September and October. Weddell seals use their incisor and canine teeth to keep their breathing holes open when ice forms over them. They can dive almost 200 feet and stay under the water for an hour. Weddell seals eat fish, squid and crustaceans.

I was so glad I got to see these seals. Their faces were so cute, as were their body movements. Once again I feel so fortunate to be here in Antarctica!

Speaking of my time here, our project has been moving along faster than we anticipated because of the continuous good weather. Almost every flight into the field has gone as scheduled. Apparently this string of superb weather is not usual. If all goes well this week, we might be finished by Dec 8th. We have three more installations to do via helicopter. Also, we have to have the Jamesway completely cleaned up and empty before we can go home. We'll see what happens.

The Weddell seal at McMurdo

He had a little itch!

Isn't he cute?

Notice the white and gray patches on his belly

His back looks all black

This is the seal I saw on the way home from Cape Royds

My favorite picture! His eyes are open!

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