Thursday, January 21, 2010

Back at F6

We finally made it back to one of the penguin rookeries that we needed to visit. After two days of trying to get to Cape Crozier but being stopped by bad weather, we decided to try for Cape Bird instead. Ross and I made it there on Wednesday. Finally, we were able to get some more of our sampling done! We did the same time of sampling at Cape Bird as we did at Cape Royds. It is interesting to do this at different rookeries because each of the three rookeries we want to visit have different sizes of penguin colonies living there. Cape Royds has several thousand breeding pairs of penguins, and Cape Bird has about 25,000. Cape Crozier has over 100,000! That means that "high activity" will be different at each of the rookeries, and we'll be able to learn more about the influence of different levels of penguin activity than we would at just one site.

There was one very curious penguin at one of our sampling spots. It wanted to inspect everything we were doing. At one point it even pecked at the shovel I was using! Here it is approaching Ross to see what he's doing with that sample bag:

I learned something very interesting about Adelie penguins while I was there! They have spiny tongues! Penguins eat krill, which are small shrimp-like animals that live in the ocean. The spines on the Adelie's tongue helps them hold onto and swallow the little krill. Here's a photo of an Adelie tongue that I found online:
[photo credit:]

So that's what I did yesterday. Today I am back at F6 for the next few days to finish up some projects in the Fryxell Basin. Let's hope the weather stays as beautiful as it is today!

1 comment:

  1. Here are my answers to some questions from my friends at Thetford Elementary School:

    Q: Do all penguins have spiny tongues?
    A: I only know about Adelies, because I've been able to see one's tongue. I think all types of penguins have the same type of spiny tongue, but I'm actually not sure. I could be wrong!

    Q: How sharp are their tongues, as sharp as a cat's?
    A: It was not very sharp. The spikes are fleshy and soft, not hard. They're more like bristles on a hairbrush.

    Q: Did you want to take that curious cute penguin home with you?
    A: Of course! And I think he would've willingly come, too, just to see what it was like!

    Q: Have you seen any emperor penguins yet?
    A: Not up close. We can see them from helicopters as we fly over the ice edge, because Emperors stay on the ice edge. I'm a soil scientist, so I stay on land. :)

    Q: What is your favorite organism, the tardigrade, nematode or the rotifer?
    A: Hmmm... I'm going to have to say the tardigrade. They're really neat-looking (more than just a tube), and they are pretty vicious. They can eat nematodes!

    Q: How big are the tardigrades?
    A: Tardigrades are veeeeeeery small. Microscopic. The biggest tardigrade can be up to 1.5 mm, but most are smaller than that. Tiny!!

    Q: In one spot where you collect soil, can you find all these organisms?
    A: No, not all of them are found in every sample. There are definitely locations we sample where there's absolutely nothing living in our sample. Some places have a lot of diversity, with lots of species of tardigrade, nematode, and rotifers. Most samples are in between, with some nematodes and rotifers, and maybe the occasional tardigrade.

    Q: Do these organisms communicate with each other?
    A: Not in the way you're thinking about it. They don't have vocalizations or hand signals to communicate. But, they must be able to find each other somehow, because they can reproduce!