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The Penguin Diaries - 33 of 36


Friday, 31 January 2003
"Now the Adelie penguins are slowly leaving the colonies..."
  

Another wonderful week at Copacabana! 
Life down here on King George Island is absolutely great. We have entered the party season. Last night we had a big goodbye fiesta for our friend & camp leader, Ladi, who is headed back to the Czech Republic. 20 of our Polish & Hungarian friends came to our humble home & we had a great night. Today our ship, the Yuzhmorgeologiya has arrived to take Ladi, so we will have another party & barbeque for our friends on board - the American scientists & Russian crew. It's nice for them to be on land after 3 weeks at sea. We have calm weather for their visit, although it's not quite as sunny as it has been for the past week. Our field work is slowing down. We were fairly busy doing Adelie, Gentoo, & Chinstrap diet sampling this week. Now the Adelie penguins are slowly leaving the colonies. The adults leave first & head down to the Weddell sea to fatten up on krill & molt to prepare for winter on the ice. After a few days, the chicks realize that they aren't going to get any more food from mom & dad, so they make their way down to the beach. We've been patrolling the shoreline in the mornings & evenings to catch & weigh fledgers. Poor little guys. There are leopard seals & giant petrels waiting to eat them as they splash around in the water & learn how to swim. Only about 10% will make it back to breed here in a couple of years. Tough odds for our little Adelie penguin friends. It's sad to see them go & the colonies will be much quieter with only gentoos left. The gentoo chicks are getting bigger & they are chasing down their parents for food. A few brave chicks are experimenting with swimming, but it will be weeks before they are on their own. We only have a few more big days of field work & a lot of data to sort through. I think February will pass very quickly though because we have several parties lined up each week. Next is my birthday with the Brazilians coming from across the bay to celebrate & dance the samba in our backyard, then we'll have an outdoor party with the Hungarians at their tent camp. February is also the month of anniversaries - the establishment of Copa Field Camp (Feb 12), the Polish Base (Feb 20) and the Brazilian station, plus Brazilian Carnival at the end of the month. I have a busier social schedule here than I've ever had. It's pretty fun. I hope the winter up north is treating you well. It sounds like we have not gone to war yet, which is good. We don't get any news down here. I'd love to hear news from home. Best wishes & happy end of January.


Love, Iris

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