A lot has happened since I last blogged.
This new blog is on the new site (www.penguinlifelines.org), which is meant to be more of a long-term stable home for the project and the counting tool. I’m in Ushuaia, one of the gateway ports to Antarctica.It calls itself ‘El fin del Mundo’ (forgetting Antarctica of course, and the bit of Chile south of it!). Ushuaia has the feel of a frontier town, with a mixture of the very new and the very ramshackle. I love it, particularly as it’s the gateway to Antarctica! Also, I love it because it has this restaurant. Anyone supporting Movember (http://uk.movember.com/about/) this year, I’m thinking of you!
This year I’m doing five trips on board the Ocean Diamond, a Quark ship that goes to the peninsula, the Falklands and South Georgia. It’s a new ship, so I look forward to seeing what she’s like (particularly on the Drake). The aims for this year are simple:
• Service and upgrade the existing cameras.
• Place at least 20 new cameras, some with built in sound monitoring.
• Trial the first satellite linked camera.
• Collect feather samples for genetic and stable isotope studies (where they go and what they eat).
To this end, I’ll be joined by Ben Collen from ZSL, who will be mainly working on the satellite camera but who is currently stuck in Buenos Aires due to a transport strike. He’s still got 14 hours to get here…Gemma Clucas takes over from Ben in December and will be focussed on genetic samples. Finally, Mike Polito joins at the end of December and will be focussed on the stable isotope samples.
Perhaps the most exciting thing for me this year is the prospect of the satellite linked camera. If it works, this is going to revolutionise monitoring around Antarctica – we will be able to monitor wildlife in places we only visit every 10 years! The backstory to this project is here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_wYdirwa3g
More to follow, but I’ll save the photos for when we actually get near to penguins!