A Penguin Update and WISSARD News

A Penguin Update and WISSARD News

We said good-bye to our WISSARD Education and Outreach team member and videographer, Dave Monk, who left yesterday morning bound for Chicago.  He will be missed!  We all learned a lot from his skillfull filming efforts in the past two weeks.


I got an update about the penguin rookery at Cape Royds; thanks to Jean for keeping me posted on how the colonies are doing out there.  The photo below shows Jean hammering in a small flag to mark a nest.  Can you see the bird with the band?  When Jean finds a banded bird with a nest and an egg, she flags it.  That way she can easily find it again when the banded bird leaves and the unbanded male is sitting there.  Banded birds are important because Jean and David know the age of those birds; they were banded as chicks.  Jean helps keep track of their lives; where they go, when they breed, how successful they are at breeding, and when they do not come back.


It looks like those penguins are very interested in what Jean is doing!  They are quite used to her presence in the colony and you’ll notice that the birds are not bothered by her being there.  In fact, they are curious!

Here is the first chick of the season!  Look closely under the adult’s body to see the tiny chick.

First chick 2012

I was also out at the WISSARD test site yesterday and today.


We even had a penguin visit the drill site and wander back off toward the pressure ridges at Scott Base.  Thank goodness he headed off in the right direction!

Reed penguin2

Reed's penguin3

Yesterday the crane was used to raise up the percussion corer for a test run.  This was the first time I saw the crane in action!


They put that percussion corer right next to the NIU container for the test run.



Adjustments were made and the equipment was lowered and moved back into the NIU container for further modifications.


While some of our equipment was towed to the site by a CAT Challenger tractor, other workers at the site finished tasks such as welding.



The hot water drill is ready to go!  After doing a test hole yesterday, today we saw some action!  The lighting was worse today, so sorry that some of the photos will be darker.  What a difference a day makes!

The photo below shows the drillers hooking up the clear hose to the drill head.


Under the drilling deck, the UV collar (otherwise known as the moon pool) was open.  The collar is closed once the metal parts of the drill are under it, in the hole.  The UV process is only used on the clear hose.


Here is the hot water drill being lowered to start melting through the ice shelf to make the borehole.


Meanwhile, more snow had to be dumped into the melter to make hot water to run the drill.



Here’s a short video that also shows this process!

And the snow is distributed inside the melter…


Later this afternoon, I helped Tim (remember, Tim’s a graduate student at NIU) transfer chemicals that will be needed later on as we retrieve samples. We had to siphon the chemicals from the plastic bottles to IV bags (like you would see for fluids in a hospital).  I enjoyed working with Tim because he was a patient teacher and explained the steps to me very carefully.

First we used a syringe to suction the liquid chemical from the plastic bottle.


Next, we attached the plastic tubing to the IV bag and the fluids transferred from the bottle to the IV bag.  Notice that the bottles are up higher on a counter, so gravity also helps transfer the chemicals.


The empty IV bag….


The bag as it’s filling up with the liquid…


I’ll add more about the WISSARD test site tomorrow.  We have a lot going on right now.  I want to leave you with this photo.  Guess what this guy is doing?  (Answer below the photo!)


This man walked all around the WISSARD site today.  He carries that crazy contraption on his back like a backpack.  I think you can see that the blue ball on the top has multiple cameras mounted in/on it.  He is working for Google Earth and they are making what’s called a “Google Street View” of the WISSARD test site.  Very cool…I love anything to do with maps and photographs.

Come back tomorrow to learn about some of the “Cool Tools” of WISSARD and to see what progress we’ve made at the test site.

20 responses to “A Penguin Update and WISSARD News

    • I know, I can’t wait to see how that Google Street View turns out! What a crazy looking gadget on that guy’s back!

  1. Hey Betty! Wow! What a different world you’re in right now! The penguin pics are my favorites also. I will send this info to my grand kids and they will love hearing from you! The Google Guy looks like a toy out of a magazine. What an interesting job he has.

    • Hi Shirl….great to hear from you guys! Yes, pass the site along to your family and stay in touch. That Google job would be cool…think of all the neat places there are learn about. Merry Christmas! xo

  2. It looks as though those penguins would make fine government employees. Eight of them are standing around, watching one person do all of the work. I’m sure it is kind of neat to see so many penguins in such an isolated place. I imagine it provides a little bit of company on those lonely days. Also, it the water that is in the IV bags from beneath the ice, or are they samples of the ice itself?

    • I just laughed out loud, Matt! Yes, those penguins would be perfect for that job. I think they look so cute watching Jean. They certainly are not afraid of her. Okay, the liquids in the IV bags are chemicals that will be used later on in the lab process (I’m still not sure for what, but it was fun to be busy helping Tim). Scientists will collect water samples for testing, but not with those IV bags. Thanks for the smile! 🙂 Sending more back to you! Love you!

    • Hi Lizbeth, Please tell Mrs. Bereiter I said hello. It’s great to hear from you and so many students in your class. What is the favorite thing you’ve learned from my blog? Merry Christmas! Love, Mrs. Trummel

  3. Cora 4a
    I thought all of the tools that you were using looked very cool and interesting. I thought the hot water drill was the coolest. By the way I’m Carter Collins little sister, have a Merry Christmas

    • Hi Cora,
      I thought you must be Carter’s sister. Tell her I said hello, will you! The tools ARE very cool…and each day I learn a little bit more about them. The hot water drilling is an interesting operation. There are many bits and pieces of this project that involve technology, science, and engineering. It’s awesome! Merry Christmas! 🙂

  4. Wow. You are hard at work and loving every minute of it. I think that camera is awesome and can’t wait to see the Google Earth pictures. Please take care.

    • Hi Kari, I just saw this post. I don’t often go back to previous blogs, so I’m glad I did tonight! Happy New Year! I am working so hard on the blogs and interviews and I love taking photos as well. I’m sure you are loving the break and I bet you are having fun with family and friends. 🙂

  5. Hi Betty,
    It is Alessandra and Sara here, we loved the penguin photos and we would love to know more about the chick. How are you? You seem doing very well, busy with experiments :o) …and happy new year in Antartica!! Looking forward to have your news, love Sara and Alessandra

    • Hi Alessandra and Sara,
      It is great to get your note. That little chick is growing fast! They gain weight very quickly and the parents are quite busy feeding the chicks in preparation for them heading into the ocean to swim north at the end of the summer season here. I am very busy with our work on WISSARD and now we are waiting to fly into the deep field camp near Lake Whillans. I hope you will keep reading the blogs. Tell Michele and Paolo hello for me. Happy New Year! Love, Betty

  6. Ciao Betty,
    Thanks for your update on the chick, Sara loves animals and she is following your blog hoping you will see more wildlife. We are all following your adventures now, and Michele in particular is there with you in his thoughts. Love from the Claps

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