Friday, February 19, 2010

Here Comes Zodiac

Yesterday was one of those days when the Antarctic is just perfect. We had blue skies for our helo ops and calm water for some work by zodiac. Zodiacs are small boats with a flat bottom, air-filled sides, and a small motor.

We have two zodiacs, and each went out for three trips. There was a trip to retrieve a time-lapse camera for the National Geographic team, there were trips to gather kelp for the biologists, there were trips to gather water for chemical analysis, and there was my trip to listen to some glaciers. We used the hydrophones again, this time to listen to glaciers instead of sea ice.

The moment we put the hydrophones in the water, Ross, our marine technician and zodiac pilot saw that the iceberg that we were listening to was going to flip over. It did, and I have a great video that I'll post once I'm back on shore. I listened to that iceberg and one other before it was time to return to the ship.

On the way back to the ship, we saw a leopard seal on some ice. Leopard seals are known to eat people, but they generally don't bother you if you're in a zodiac. So we approached, carefully and quietly, and got to circle around him before we went back to the ship. You can identify a leopard seal by it's silhouette: there's a medium head, a skinny neck, and a big body. They're the only seals with necks, and they also have leopard-like spots on their undersides - but you usually don't want to get close enough to see those!


  1. Hi,
    How do you "hear" that an iceberg is going to flip? Love the pics, please post more :) ...

  2. I'm also curious about the "listening" to icebergs! And what does it mean to flip?