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7 December, 2000

FYI answer for 12/06/00

In Antarctica, and science in general, measurements are done in centimeters and meters, temperatures in Celsius, and wind speeds in knots. Standard measurements like inches and yards must be converted to centimeters and meters. Fahrenheit must be converted to Celsius, and miles per hour must be converted to knots.

Things get off and running when the sun is shining, and that's where we were today. This was probably the longest day of work. It was the last full-study area census, and we had a number of attachments because of the previous two days off. The census crew took off for the north and south ends of the study area. Katsu, Gifford, and I started with the census at Big Razorback Island. We had three seals that needed tissue samples taken. We also found a young male, a yearling, that did not have tags. I got to retag him.

We headed over to Turks Head. We began with a census. Gifford and I started our census at a location that Katsu usually does. He checks farther back along the coast and into the pressure ridges. We saw a number of pups back in these ridges, so I chose to do some climbing. I found climbing into the ridges challenging, exciting, and very physical work. The snow hid a lot of the cracks and crevices as well as a few crevasses. I was pretty excited to climb. We completed half of the census, had lunch, and Katsu located two adult females to which he wanted to attach instruments.

The two attachments went fairly well. The first female did take awhile to settle. She rolled a number of times before we got the epoxy to dry. That is frustrating because the process has to start all over again. She calmed down and stopped moving and we were able to get it finished in about forty minutes. The second attachment was much smoother. We actually attached an additinal istrument to both females. We added a radio transmitter. The two seals' locations can be tracked by the instrument.

The seal colony structures are starting to break down. That means that the mothers are weaning their pups; the pups are on their own and the females are leaving to breed with the males. The females will travel to different areas now. I found a female from Turks Head at Big Razorback this morning, and her pup is still at Turks Head. She may have left the pup for good. About half of the pups born this year will survive to their first birthday. They generally do not return to this area for three to four years. Some of this year's pups are too small to be able to catch their own food and some are too small to survive being alone. Some pups, when they get out to the pack ice, will become prey for leopard seals and killer whales.

We returned to Big Razorback to attach an instrument each to two older pups. In watching these pups over the last week or so, we know that they spend time in the water. We had to tag two males and a female that did not have tags. I got to tag all three. We finally finished working after 6 p.m. It was still a beautiful evening. After a great steak dinner to celebrate our final census, I took all the census information and put it into the computer.


The ratio of male to female ________ born in a season is nearly 50:50. However, most pups born early in the season are__________ and more ___________ are born in the latter part of the birthing season. This year in the study area, there were 475 pups born; ______ females, _______ males and three unknowns (these were pups that died right after birth).

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