A day off???

This journal is brought to you by…

Flags for Antarctica
Flags for 'Antarctica' – part one. Photo credit: Alex Eilers.

Flags for Antarctica
Flags for 'Antarctica' – part two. Photo credit: Alex Eilers.

  • Mrs. Tara Peeper’s 4th grade students at Crosswind Elementary
  • Mary Pullen’s 2nd and 3rd grade students at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School
  • Ms. Norvell’s 2nd grade students at Lakeland Elementary
  • Gaston Community Center in Memphis, TN
  • Pinehill Community Center in Memphis, TN
  • McFarland Community Center in Memphis, TN
  • James and Emily Kmet from Maria Montessori School
  • Nate Cotton in 5th grade at Kate Bond Elementary
  • Dolphin Thalhauser’s 6th grade class at Mirror Lake Middle School

Crosswind Elementary Students:

  • Madeline Ngwyen in 3rd grade
  • Cameron Morris in 3rd grade
  • Emily Givens
  • Alina Nansiyani in 4th grade
  • George Matthew in 3rd grade
  • Harlan Whitehorn in 1st grade
  • Jeffrey Miller in 5th grade

Hurray, we’ve got a day off!

Well truth be told, it’s not actually a day off, just no field work. But to quote one of the graduate students, a single day down here is like two and a half days of work at home. So being in the lab feels like a day off!

The good news is, this leaves me with a bit of extra time to let you know a little about what I’ve been up to.

So, let me give you a brief rundown of what the team has been up to these past couple of weeks.

Field work

We started our field work on November 15 and worked with one seal that day. Each seal we work with is given a unique ID (identification) hers was WS14-01.

Let me explain our ID system.

WS stands for Weddell seal
14 stands for the year – 2014
01 stands for the first seal we worked with this season.

All other seals will have the same prefix of WS14 but the last two numbers will change.

Since WS14-01 isn’t the most exciting name, our team has decided to name the seals.

WS14-01 was named ‘Galaxy’ and she weighed 305 kg. She was also an ‘early mom’ meaning she had a pup early in the season.

Working a seal
The team preparing to work one of the first seals of the season. Photo credit: Alex Eilers.

Field day 2, November 16, 2014

Field day 2 was a success, with two seal worked – WS14-02 and WS14-03!
WS14-02 was a ‘skip’ female, which means she did not have a pup this season. She was named ‘Hiccup’ and weighed 425 kg.
WS14-03 was also a ‘skip’ female and weighed 438 kg. Her name was Sea Biscuit.

Field day 3, November 17, 2014

Field day 3 took us to the Tent Island colony of seals where we found one skip mom (WS14-04). She had a scar on her left hind flipper, so we thought it fitting to call her ‘Scar.’

She weighed 381 kg.

Field day 4, November 18, 2014

Field day 4, took us to the Hutton Cliffs colony where we found another skip mom (WS14-05). The team named her ‘Hippo’ because she tipped the scales at 500 kg.

One of the first seals
These are some amazing animals. Photo credit: Alex Eilers.

Field day 5, November 19

Field day 5, took us back to Hutton Cliffs where we found two early moms: Super Mom (WS14-06) and Skittles (WS14-07).

Super Mom got her name because she was seen nursing two pups. We know one of the pups was hers but we are not sure if the second pup was actually hers or if she ‘adopted’ it. Twins are very rare and it is likely that she ‘adopted’ the second pup. Either way, she was doing a super job, hence her name.

Super Mom weighed 360 kg.
Skittles weighed 275 kg.

Field day 6, November 21

Field day 6 was another 2 seal day and took us to Turtle Rock and again back to Hutton Cliffs. We worked two early moms ‘Angel’ (WS14-08) and ‘Arrow’ (WS14-09). Both were named because of the shape of the die marks used to color their fur. One as angel wings the other as an arrow. These dye marks will help the team identify the seals when they return in January.

Angel weighed 263 kg.
Arrow weighed 225 kg.

Hutton Cliffs
Seal colony at Hutton Cliffs. Photo credit: Alex Eilers.

Field day 7, November 23

We’re having luck finding seals at Hutton Cliffs, so we are back again on Field day 7 to find another early mom (WS14-10) and a skip female (WS14-11). It was very windy that day so we didn’t have time/think about naming these seals.

Which is a good thing for YOU, because I thought you’d like to help us out. Do you have a suggestion for a seal name? If so, please send your suggestions to ‘Ask the Team.’

Field day 8, November, 24

We found her, we’ve finally found her! This seal has eluded us for days. We’ve seen her pup everyday but have not seen her; that is until today. But if you were keeping score, I think the seal got the better of our team. Why?

Besides trying unsuccessfully for several days to find this seal, when we finally spot her and start our work, a storm blows in! Of all the luck, and right in the middle of everything, so we didn’t quite finish our work.

So if you are keeping score:

WS14-12 – 1
Seal team – 0

Darn the luck! Now while we didn’t get all of our data, we did get the majority, so overall it was a success.

I bet you can guess what we called this seal… Storm!

Speaking of a storm… keep an eye out for the storm journal.

Something to think about…

Try it!

  • Go back and take a look at the weights of the seals we’ve worked with.
  • Do you notice any difference between the early mom and the skip?
  • Chart them and tell me if you notice a difference between the two.
  • Send your comments to ‘Ask the Team’ and if there is a difference, hypothesize about why.


Jace Fulton

Name the seal Tiddles.

Alex Eilers

Thanks Jace!
That is a great name. I'll be sure to put it on the list.

Hope you are having a good time in school!

Ms. Alex