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Seals on Ice!

12/12/2010, 10:57 PM by Lollie Garay
A leopard seal protects her pup.<br/><br/>Credit: Rasmus Swalethorp
A leopard seal protects her pup.
Photo Credit: Rasmus Swalethorp

Dec 12

Amidst the Ice

The scenery keeps getting better every day! I put out a plea for images of the ice and any Antarctic critters in the area – and just look at what I got!

Kate Lowry, Grad student from Stanford, took the iceberg shots. Kate’s working with PI Kevin Arrigos’ team and Anna Alderkamp on the phytoplankton studies.

Emily Rogalsky (Rutgers) snapped the crabeater seals on the ice. Look carefully- all those black spots are seals! Crabeaters live in the ice pack around Antarctica, but they don’t eat crabs- they eat lots of krill, tiny shrimp-like creatures. According to Tish, the fact that they are seeing hundreds of crabeaters in this area indicates there must be lots of krill under the ice. They also spotted some emperor penguins.

And Swedish grad student Rasmus Swalethorp gets kudos for the picture(s) of the day! In his words, he “got lucky” and captured this leopard seal as she protects her pup. Leopard seals are a top predator in these seas. They eat krill, penguins and young crabeater seals.

Thanks to all for sharing these awesome sights!

Chief Tish reports that they are gaining another hour in their day. Why? All the time zones in the world come together at the South Pole! So as they travel around Antarctica, the move from one time zone to another. Tish made the comment that its really nice to have “an extra hour in your day every other day or so”. I agreed and told her that would make a great question to pose to our audience: What would you do with an extra hour gained every other day?

☺ Lollie

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  • What are Polynyas and why are they important to study?

    Polynyas, are recurring areas of seasonally open water surrounded by ice.

    Energy and material transfer between the atmosphere, polar surface ocean, and the deep sea in polynas provide polar ecosystems with just the right ingredients needed for high productivity and intense biogeochemical recycling.

    Polynyas may be the key to understanding the future of Polar Regions since their extent is expected to increase with anthropogenic warming.