Thursday, November 1, 2007

Penguin Colonies - Part 2

Today, Paul, Matt, Cass and Jessica took a flight to survey the remaining two colonies on our list -- Coulman Island and Cape Roget. Cape Roget is approximately 500 miles north of McMurdo and out of the reach of the small Twin Otter, so they flew on a DC3 (the Basler). See below:

Photo of Jessica and Cass in the Basler is below.

And here's one of Matt and Cass.

When the plane reached Coulman Island, which is the colony with most emperor penguins in the Ross Sea, they flew by that well-known (ahem....) landmark, Ponganis Icefalls (below). I have often thought that if we want world leaders to take global warming seriously, we should name icefalls after them.

It also begs the question of what happens to the Ponganis Icefall if it melts. Does it become Ponganis Pond at the foot of the slope or Ponganis Rock Pile? One of life's little imponderables....

Here is the Coulman Island colony from the distance with the penguin "smudges". Just like Cape Washington, this colony is so large (~20, 000+ chicks) that it splits into numerous smaller sub-colonies.

And here is Cape Roget with more emperor "smudges". This is a much smaller colony of ~5,000 chicks. It was very exciting to reach Roget. Its distance from McMurdo and its often bad weather have made it impossible to census this colony since 1993!

Here's Paul photographing the colonies for the census count. He is taking the photos through an open window. Brrrr....!