Sunday, February 2, 2014

Field Sketches in Antarctica

Seal head shot!
Over winter break I had the opportunity to work in the Dry Valleys in Antarctica! I was a field assistant with a group of 6: one of my professors and a graduate student here at UMaine, and 3 others from UC Santa Cruz.

The project involved sampling and measuring hundreds of mummified seals that died usually thousands of years ago. These seals can reveal what past populations were, what they ate, and how these abundant animals responded to changes in the climate. This information will help reveal how they may react to current warming in the Antarctic.

I learned a ton about seal identification, bones, the breakdown of bodies, and also about the area: the glaciers and landforms and history of research there.

We kept pretty busy but I made the time to do a few sketches while we were there! 24 hours of sun made doing this more convenient! Had to bundle up a bit, but temps were usually warmer than back in Maine !

I will do some more posts on my trip soon to share more pictures and stories !

Seal mummy close to our camp in Marshall Valley

Camp in Wright Valley. In the background is the Denton Glacier and the peak is Loki ( this was the Asgard range). We slept two to a ten in the tall yellow Scott tents and the striped tent was our big cook/hang out tent

The large southern end of the Clark Glacier coming into Wright Valley

I began to sketch this section of Victoria Valley but the helicopter arrived to bring us back to camp so I haven't finished it yet !


  1. Jill: What a great opportunity for you to not only work on an important scientific project, but to manage to find some time for your artwork as well while in Antarctica. Some great images you've done that resonate what you experienced in ways that photos often don't.

    I recently wrote about a pair of artists in Antarctica in the mid-1950s, who went with the US Navy as part of Operation Deepfreeze. You might enjoy a look at their work. See my blog post at:

    Continued good luck with your artwork.

  2. Thanks a lot, it was an excellent opportunity! I read your articles, super interesting, and incredible that they were able to do such wonderful sketches in those conditions!!