The National Zoo's Antarctica Expedition is sponsored by the National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs.
All photographs depicting Weddell seals were taken under NMFS Permit No. 763-1485-00 issued under the authority of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
March 10, 2008
After a turbulent and busy season on the ice, we are all home again. So busy, in fact, that we had no time to write. But now that I am back at my desk, I promise to make up for that.
We wrapped up our field work in late December, and after frenzied cleaning, sorting, packing, and inventorying of gear, samples, and equipment, caught a plane that carried us away from the Great White South to the green shores of New Zealand, just in time for Christmas.
Christmas in New Zealand is a summer affair, sun-drenched and bright and likely as not to be celebrated in the garden or on the beach. It was lovely to feel the warmth of the sun and the balmy summer air on one’s skin after so many months of being wrapped up against the bitter cold.
Back in at the Zoo Washington, D.C., I have started preparations for the analysis of all the samples and data we collected. The first installment of our samples, still frozen solid on dry ice, arrived in early March after making the long journey from McMurdo Station, Antarctica, to the National Zoo. Another lot of more bulky items, such as samples of whole fish, is being shipped to us by boat, and we expect to see it some time in April.
While most of the results from our expedition will not be available until after samples have been analyzed in our laboratories and those of our collaborators, some data—such as data on weight loss and gain of mothers and their pups—are available to us now, and very interesting indeed.
In the next dispatch, “Class of 2007,” I will tell you a little about how our pups were doing and describe some preliminary results on pup growth.