Location: Lat: 72 04.41 Long: 132 41.854
Sunrise: 8:35 Sunset: 4:34
I enjoyed the interesting guesses that have been posted and emailed about the mystery picture. A few were close! The mystery picture was a close-up photo of bird feces found on the fos'cle! A bit gross, but also pretty cool considering that it we are surrounded by nothing but a giant ocean. The feces was found when we were closer to shore after we had just left Prudhoe Bay. The scientist on board agree that they believe the feces belongs to a species of bird called a ptarmigan.
Ptarmigans are birds similar to a grouse or a wild chicken. They generally live in large flocks in open habitats. They are a land based species - meaning this one had probably flown off track. They live in arctic and alpine regions and are vegetarian - eating berries and willow buds. You could actually see bits of orange (probably berries) in the droppings!
Today was a successful day for the bear team and for the ice diving team. Both groups had a full day of work. Although the slightly colder is great for making thicker ice, the wind chill made it challenging for the teams to work.
The polar bear team was able to find two bears today while working out in the field. One was a bear they had captured in the spring and they were able to recover the temperature logger they had implanted in the bears abdomen. Each time they are able to collect one of the loggers, it's as if they found gold! They are so excited to break open the logger from it's protective plastic casing and download the data. You can imagine all the time, money and work that has gone into the project and to finally be able to begin to see the results is amazing. The morale level of the team goes skyrocketing each time they successful download data from the temperature loggers and the other data monitors on the bears.
One of the things that I have found fascinating about working with the polar bear team, is that their ability to think creatively when it comes to materials. Most of their supplies are things that have been adjusted for use on a polar bear - there isn't a "polar bear research supply store." For example, the activity monitors they use on the bears were designed for use on humans in their daily lives - so they have had to figure out how to adapt them to survive arctic conditions. By using silicon rubber sealant and 5 minute epoxy (from the hardware store), they have been able to create a (mostly) waterproof seal around the activity monitor that can withstand several months of marine arctic conditions. Two of the tools that seem to be used a lot in the lab are sharpies and zip lock baggies - for all sorts of uses.
Another example, is the way that fat depth is measured. During the muscle surgery, a sterile tongue depressor is inserted into the incision site up until it hits the muscle. A sharpie is used to mark the depth of the fat layer, which is measured back on board the ship in centimeters.