November 6, 2008 [Video] Ian saw it first!
Just before Ian was about to go into the water, he looked up across the lake and said "penguin!" Sure enough, there was an Adelie penguin trying to make his way across the lake! He climbed up onto the ice ledges and hobbled down onto the smooth ice areas. Then he made his way over to camp.
This little Adelie seemed to be thankful for a nice warm rock on which to rest!
He certainly seemed to be on a mission; albeit a bit confused!
Now, as exciting and adorable as this is, Lake Hoare is NOT the place you really want to see a penguin. They are quite a ways from the ocean here and typically are unable to find their way back out of the valley. There is nothing for them to eat here, the lakes are frozen, so there is no readily available water for them; it is a recipe for peril. We immediately started hoping for a helicopter rescue, but it is against the Antarctic Treaty to interfere with the wildlife without a permit. Permit! I know some folks working on the Adelie penguin project. I called them as soon as we got back to the hut. They might be interested in coming to get him/her tomorrow! Check out the video - she/he walked right up to me!
Things are progressing nicely! Hal is cooperating and sending great data back to the surface! This morning, Ian dove and moved Hal to his next sampling spot. He will take a few days worth of readings in this spot, and we will move him one last time to deeper water for some final readings.
This is exciting research. Ian and Peter have been collecting data and samples over the years in order to determine how the algal mat is growing and how much oxygen it is producing. They have come up with a model to predict what will happen with varying degrees of light within the lake at the various depths. The exciting part of this year's research is that we are setting up experiments that will allow them to test if their model is correct.
The researchers have chosen a section of the lake within which to run their experiment. Basically, they are deploying three shade screens, to simulate lower light level conditions, and three frames with lights attached to simulate higher light level conditions. The spaces in between will act as control areas. With this set up, they will be able to determine how varying light levels affect the growth of the mat and test if their model is correct. The screens and light frames will be left in the lake for two years.
This afternoon, we had hoped to do two dives. Aslan dove and got all three of his "shade screens" deployed and in position. The screens are 75 cm X 75 cm squares that are anchored at each corner with a bag of rocks. There are also 2 floats attached to string on the screen frames that will act to buoy the screen up off the bottom. Aslan says the screens set up well!
Ian carries the shade screens out to the dive hole.
Ian and Aslan discuss the anchoring system.
Aslan determines the best angle to lower the screens down the dive hole.
Ian gets ready to lower one of the screens down to Aslan who is already diving and waiting for the screen at the bottom of the ice tube! You can see the orange floats that will keep the screens up off the algal mat.
I was supposed to dive after Aslan in order to take photographs of Hal, the shade screens, and the algal growth that exists on an experiment that has been in the lake for several years. A few minutes before I was to dive, the sun went behind the mountain beside camp. This reduced the light levels under the lake significantly, so we decided to wait until tomorrow to do the photography dive - the sun will be behind the mountain for a few hours!
Check back to see what the experiments look like set up underwater!
You can also check out my journals and pictures from previous seasons at: http://www.ryejrhigh.org/ellwood