Wildlife watching

An underwater image of a minke whale with the white ice above it.
The minke whale captured by a Gopro camera on a pole under the ice (Photo: Aaron Spurr)
A minke whale pokes its head out of the hole in the ice.Emperor penguins stick their head out the hole in the ice.The penguins slide down the ice.Hole in the ice with light from the krill trap shining up from the icy dark depthsPerson in cold weather gear lifting equipment and tipping it out…Rob holding a bucket with squid in it.White bucket with wriggling critters in it.

Monday 5 November

Spending a week at one ice station has benefits. For the past few days we have been entertained by wildlife using a breathing hole near the ship. Our first visitor was a minke whale, which spent many hours popping its head out of the hole and sending a plume of water into the air. Aaron Spurr, a senior gear support officer with the Australian Antarctic Division, set up his Gopro camera on a pole and captured this amazing picture of the whale below the ice.

Later in the day a group of emperor penguins frolicked in the breathing hole, leaping onto the ice for a brief walk around before disappearing back into the hole. Early the next morning three crabeater seals kept an eye on us as we checked the suitability of the ice around the hole for scientific activities.

The breathing hole was quiet this morning, but in a nearby hole drilled for the Remotely Operated Vehicle, there was activity of another kind. Australian Antarctic Division krill biologist Rob King had deployed his krill light trap (see blog post 10 September) overnight and had managed to capture a handful of Antarctic krill. He also caught a squid, which looked suspiciously fat. The squid was released and the krill were taken back to the ship, where they will participate in a range of metabolic experiments (see recent blog post).