January 19th – Crystal Sound
Al from ZSL is on board – one of the most important aspects of this whole season is to get a satellite camera out. It’s by no means the first concept of a satellite webcam, but one that is cheap and can survive the Antarctic winter unassisted? That’s revolutionary. Now we just have to achieve that.
Al is the tech god who designed the new camera. He’s then been working with Cambridge Consultants to come up with a way to link it to a satellite modem on the cheap and with a small unreliable power supply. This is a really important addition to the toolkit; it will allow us to monitor some incredibly remote, seldom-visited sites and fill the data gap that currently plagues a lot of Antarctic policy-making. Then, don’t forget all the remote areas around the world which suffer from poaching and other threats. Al and co built this as a camera trap (a camera triggered by motion). I’ve been nagging him for about two years to make it robust enough for Antarctica. I think I’ve succeeded in getting through how harsh the freeze-thaw process is. He’s been in his cabin almost non-stop for the last three days testing and re-testing everything before we deploy.
Throughout the night, we were pushing through sea ice south of the Antarctic Circle, looking for a way into some of the islands down there with Adelies. I was hoping to get the satellite camera out there, but it’s not to be. The sea ice that stopped us in this case is the life blood of Antarctica; a substrate for algae and therefore what krill forage on. Krill are small shrimp and everything in Antarctica eats them or knows someone that does.
Well, at least the thing that stopped us is good for penguins. Plus, we got a zodiac cruise in spectacular scenery with brilliant wildlife- it was stunning seeing Wilson’s storm petrels foraging doing their dance on the surface of the water.
So, no sat cam yet, but soon!