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9 December, 2000

FYI answer for 12/08/00

The Weddell seal pups are born from mid October to early November. Their average birth weight is 27 to 30 kilograms (60 lbs.) and they are around a meter in length. They begin to enter the water and swim after about 2-3 weeks, and begin molting (losing their "lanugo" or puppy-fur) after about 4 weeks, and nurse until the mother leaves in early/mid-December.

Friday did not end until after a midnight trip to visit the Ice Caves, which are not too far from camp at Big Razorback Island. We were able to take the flagged roads and flagged path into two different entrances inside the Erebus Glacier Tongue. It is a cave inside the glacier. Once I walked in I saw amazing ice crystals, the blue light of the sun's rays coming through and snow and ice formations unlike anything I have ever seen before. We spent about a half-hour taking pictures and talking about this place.

We still seemed to be in a pattern of clear skies and warmer temperatures, in the mid to upper 30's, and low winds as we started our last weekend of work out here at field camp. We had to look for two females at Turk's Head that still had instruments that needed to come off. We went to Turks Head but did not find either one. We returned to Big Razorback and attached instruments to one female there and returned to Turks Head, but still did not find either seal there. I then joined Cory, Dan, and Shawn to go and remove a head from a seal that had died of natural causes earlier in the season. The head is cut from the seal and after cleaning, it is put into bags and tagged with specific information about the seal and it will be sent to a reference collection in Seattle, Washington. Like most of our activities, special permits are required for this procedure.

There was another dead female located at another site inour study area. When we arrived to get the head from it, we found the head and half it's body buried in the frozen ice and recent snows. We worked for over an hour with our ice axes and a shovel to get down to the head. Unfortunately it was still looking like a few hours of work. Mike came along and told us that he appreciated the effort, but this one was too far into the sea ice. We had dug down about three feet to that point. The seals position was very strange, head down in the ice and on her back. It caused us all to try and think of what happened and how she would have died in this position.

The B-009 fieldcamp was given the evening off, in McMurdo. We all gathered a few things together and headed to McMurdo for a late dinner. I did some laundry and other small tasks. I will have to leave by mid day tomorrow and head back to Big Razorback for some detachments. It was one of the nicest snowmobile trips that I've had with the sunny skies tonight.


Female _____________ mothers can lose up to 400 pounds of _____________ fat in a season because it transfers to _______ that the pup nurses to grow its own blubber. The mother also is able to distinguish her pup's _________ from birth.

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