This week at Davis: 29 November 2019

Some of the summer science at Davis

The Davis seal survey in full swing

In May 2018 the Australian Government announced its intention to construct a 2,700 m paved runway near Davis research station, subject to environmental approvals.

For the 2019-20 field season, a team of 15 personnel will spend the summer at Davis, undertaking environmental and geotechnical investigations to support the environmental assessments process and continue understanding geotechnical design characteristics. 

A key component of this field seasons environmental program is the ongoing surveys of local seal populations during the pupping season. This work commenced earlier in the year with the 2019 Davis winter team undertaking ground survey through Long Peninsula. For summer, this program increases, with weekly aerial surveys kicking off already, followed by 3 day ground surveys, allowing the Project to accurately capture changes in population each week, and additional data on habitat locations and abundance.

Pupping of Weddell seals begins in the first two weeks of October. The number of breeding adults and pups peaks in the first week of November. The excellent station support from the last wintering party was greatly appreciated during this critical time for the Vestfold Hills Weddell Seal populations.

For Weddell seal pups, birth to weaning is around 5 to 7 weeks, and the females may lose around a 1/3 of their body weight. For every one kilogram the pup gains the female will lose two kilograms. The pup at birth will weigh 22 to 25 kg, at weaning around 110 kg, and they double their weight in the first 8 to 10 days.

As the 2018-19 Davis winter team arrive back in Hobart, the Project would like to thank the Davis wintering team for their ongoing support over the winter period, both in the collection of vital winter seal census data, and the collection and management of various other data including air quality, dust and other instrumentation. 

Davis Aerodrome Project Field Team 

A weddell seal pup and its mother lying on the grey sea ice
Weddell seal pup with its mother
(Photo: AAD)
Two men walk across the blue sea ice while carrying equipment
Davis 2018-19 expeditioner Dane Eden assists seal biologist Andrew Irvine during a…
(Photo: AAD)
14 of the Davis Aerodrome Project expeditioners pose on the station's living quarters deck
Davis Aerodrome Project Early season team
(Photo: AAD)