First transit, blisters and first penguins

A few days after our arrival, Kévin (Kéké), Max and I went to Ratmanoff, East of the Courbet Peninsula, for our first field session to study gentoo penguins.The transit to get there was supposed to take 5 and half hours. Turned out it took (much) longer because of my feet – I had bad blisters that prevented me from really enjoying the walk! But when we arrived in Ratmanoff, we discovered an amazing scenery: the huge king penguin colony. The hut is built right next to them and elephant seals, on the beach. It's made of several little modules: the bedroom, the kitchen, the 'store', the ornithological unit, another scientist's unit, and the bathroom. There were David from the reserve and Alain, from the meteorological services, to help us in the field. The next morning, we went to the gentoo penguins' colonies to find the right one for our study. And everything was so surprising: the male elephant seals fighting for females and the mating, the baby elephant seals, the molting king penguins , the penguins feeding their chicks, a few fur seals, the giant petrels and skuas fighting for the remains of dead animals, the wandering albatros chicks on the nest, the remains of beached pilot whales, the wind, the waves... An amazing and calming proximity to nature! Our goal was to fit gentoo penguins with GPS in order to study their movements at sea. Unfortunately, as the blisters on my feet hurt like hell, I couldn't wear shoes so I couldn't go to the colony most of the time. Life in the field was a discovery by itself as well. The boys went fishing from time to time and brought back trouts (the trout carpaccio is absolutely delicious!), or checked out the snares they used to catch rabbits and came back a few times with fresh meat. We learned how to cook all that, to make bread (well, this time that was Alain's specialty so we let him do it!)... I left earlier than the other guys because a team came with tractors to provide the huts with fresh supplies and scientific equipment, so they'd proposed to take me onboard to get back to base. I thus left on the 27, on business class (in the cab, where it's nice and warm compared to the trailer). I have to admit it wasn't very comfy because of the rough terrain but it was better than using my feet and I thank the team for giving me a ride back!!
Male elephant seals' fight and king penguins
Elephant seals
King penguins' colony

Kerguelen Ratmanoff blisters transit field elephant seals gentoo penguins

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