The “night” passed quickly and we had a rather warm time in too many layers. To my great joy, Ekki who will be my tent buddy over the next month doesn’t snore. After we got up, our field trainer James told me that a Weddell seal just crawled next to the tent over night. How much would I have liked to say “G’day Mate”. We melted some snow for tea and had delicious oats with cheese crackers for breakfast.
After we packed up “camp 1”, we were just on the way to Willie’s Airfield to drop off our skidoos and sledges for further transport on Saturday. As we were driving the skidoos over the step between the sea ice and the much thicker ice shelf, Oli on his skidoo in front of me pointed his finger towards a well-dressed little bird left of us. It was an Adelie penguin called “Philip” who seemed a bit lost out here. As I learned later that day, he is one of a million Adelie penguins breeding in the Ross Sea region over summer. There are three major colonies on Ross Island at Cape Royds (3500 breeding pairs), Cape Bird (60000) and Cape Crozier (150000). However, Philip is most likely coming from a smaller group located at Hut Point near McMurdo. Other scientists count Adelie penguins to monitor changes in the marine ecosystem caused by commercial fishing or climate change. I also start counting : One !