Continuing their epic Antarctic trip, the very important clams (VICs) Clarence and Clemmie, the CACHE mascots, talk ‘cute stuff’!
“So far we have talked a lot about the science going on at Rothera, but whenever you mention the Antarctic, everyone immediately thinks of the big ‘cute’ stuff, like penguins, seals and whales (please note, there are no polar bears down here: they are at the other end of the planet in the Arctic, which is a mistake lots of people make).
Do we get the ‘cute’ stuff here? Yes we do! Not in huge numbers, but enough to prove you are in the Antarctic. We put ‘cute’ as although they look appealing, they all really, really smell (but the elephant seals are by far the worst!)! Most of the time there are a few Adelie penguins wandering around the base. They seem to be particularly well fed this year, as you can see from the rather chubby one in the photo. For a number of years now there have been increasing numbers of elephant seals on base. These are juvenile males who have been displaced from the islands higher up the Peninsula because their numbers are increasing and there isn’t enough room for them on the breeding beaches. Unfortunately, the elephant seals don’t seem to realise that their new home is a working research base and they just plonk themselves down wherever they feel like it and stay there for weeks, totally oblivious to everything going on around them and if they are in the way, they usually refuse to move. For some reason they really like snuggling up to the sewerage treatment plant? Maybe they can smell something we can’t and like it?
Towards the end of summer we get quite a few fur seals on base as well. They seem to particularly like the runway, which obviously does not go down well with the pilots: planes, propellers and fur seals do not mix!”