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.
anchor ice: Submerged ice attached to the sea bottom
beaker: Slang for a scientist. “We're a bunch of beakers going to 'The Ice'” (see below).
blow: A blizzard
boffin: Australian slang for a scientist
boomerang: When flying, having to return to Christchurch, New Zealand, due to adverse weather conditions at the landing site at McMurdo station
C-17: Also known as the C-17 Globemaster III, this military transport plane measures 173 feet (53 meters) long, has a wingspan of 170 feet (52 meters), and carries a payload of up to 169,000 pounds (76,700 kilograms)
calve: The process by which an iceberg breaks off from a glacier or ice shelf
capital breeders: Mammals in which mothers forage very little, if at all, during lactation
Chch: Pronounced “cheech”—Christchurch, New Zealand—the real-world take-off point for those going to “The Ice”
crack: A crevasse
ECW: Extreme Cold Weather gear, distributed in Christchurch before the flight to The Ice.
fast ice: Sea ice attached to the shore or connecting icebergs
frazil ice: Needle-shaped ice crystals that form a slush in the water
Gondwanaland: The ancient super-continent consisting of Antarctica, South America, Africa, Australia, and India
GPS: Global Positioning System, a highly accurate electronic system that uses satellites to determine one's location and altitude on the Earth's surface
growler: Small, difficult-to-detect chunk of ice floating in the water; usually potentially hazardous
guano: Bird droppings
harem: A group of female seals aggressively protected by a male also known as a “harem master”
herbie: A storm with fierce blowing wind and snow
Herc: Hercules C-130 cargo plane used to transport almost anything to and from Antarctic stations
hoosh: A thick stew eaten by early explorers made of pemmican (pulverized dried meat), hard biscuits, and water
income breeders: Mammals in which mothers forage during lactation
lactation: The process by which energy and nutrients are transferred, in the form of milk, from a female mammal to offspring
land ice: Ice formed from snow falling on land; freshwater ice
lead: Water channels between chunks of pack ice
lolly ice: The thickened state of sea water when it begins to crystallize during freezing
Mac Town: McMurdo Station, as residents call it
nunatak: A mountain or large piece of rock sticking out through the surrounding ice
NSF: National Science Foundation, the government agency that is funding our research
otariid seal: The "eared seals," such as the California sea lion
pack ice: Large sheets of free-floating sea ice.
pancake ice: Small, circular pads of free-floating ice.
phocid seal: Seals of the family Phocidae, also known as “true seals” and “earless seals”
pinniped: A member of the group of mammals that includes seals, sea lions, and walruses. Pinniped means “feather-footed” in Latin, a reference to the flipper-like limbs of these animals.
Pisten Bully: A work/transport vehicle designed especially for traversing snowy and icy terrain
reckie: A reconnaissance mission
rotten ice: Old ice that has weakened just prior to melting—really dangerous if you step or drive on it
sea ice: Ice created by the freezing of sea water
skua: A really big seagull-like bird that will eat virtually anything
sludge: Thickened, slushy sea ice
The Ice: Antarctica, to those in the know
USAP: U.S. Antarctic Program, the folks who run McMurdo Station
Weddell seal: Leptonychotes weddelli, the animal we are studying in the Antarctic