2017 Oct - Weddell Seals: Western Antarctic Peninsula - Where are the seals?


I don’t know if my eyes are getting worse, but I only find a tile (“question”) with seals around every one thousand tiles I check. How often do you find seals?


Roughly about the same Shaul and then I’ll see three consecutively :smirk:


Right now we’re in the part of the campaign where we are eliminating many - if not most - of the sections of maps where there are no seals. Every once in a while we do find a tile or two that does have seals. I’d imagine those parts of the map are "tagged by the program itself so we’ll be fed that later on for more intense scrutiny. Once in a while we also find penguin colonies, rookeries (where they raise their little ones and are always in “brown” snow (read: penguin poop :rofl:)), and even scientists’ camps, vehicles, core drilling operations, etc… And on rare occasions, we’ve found things like an old whaling station (where the glacier is still in the process of burying it after a hundred years or so). And best of all, we get to see the beautiful colors of the ice, algae, bacterium, etc… And as for seals, yes we do find them. And when Tomnod gives us the next part of the campaign, we’ll be tagging away! But for now, we’re at the “boring” part (with the exception of our fun finds). :wink:


Please read
Satellites over Seals: New Weddell Seal Campaign Launched!


It’s REALLY hard to know if the dark blobs on the white surface are seals, or something else.

My two cents: If the blobs are close to a crack in the ice, or close to open water, then it might be seals - otherwise, maybe not…

How do you decide yes or no? (Take this one for example: http://www.tomnod.com/campaign/campaign_2148/question/411072)

It would have been very interesting to see what others have decided on the polygons that have been marked as “seals” by at least one member.


We were told

  • close to cracks
  • close to water edges
  • not out in the middle of the landmass
  • not near rock formations (smaller rocks break off)


The problem that I am having isn’t the seals it is the topography. I don’t know what I am looking at with the exception of distinct cracks, flat blank white tiles and snow free land masses. Would love a brief tutorial on the different formations we are viewing.


Hi all. Thank you for keeping up with our slow paddle around the coast of Antarctica!

Many people have said it well here already like @Jim7. We are trying to narrow down our search for habitat so are always seeing more “no seals” than “seals.” That isn’t the best from a reward standpoint, so we do appreciate you all sticking with it.

We would much prefer that you nodders “over-identify” than “under-identify” seals, within reason. So even if you are not sure about rocks vs shadows vs seals, if you have a feeling it may be seals, mark it that way. Our colleagues at the University of Minnesota are pretty expert at this and can pull out the rock votes - it helps them A LOT to have narrowed it down the way you are doing.

Interesting idea, @Wilms! Michelle LaRue knows quite a bit about the different types of ice and landforms. I know she is getting ready to go out of the country but I could see if she could pop in.


Thank you! That would be wonderful.



I’m not Dr LaRue, and I know half of nothing, but here is my commentary about landforms.

Let’s start with the map edges on a film strip.
jet Black – off the map – May be pure white or other color. One campaign, Tn made the black be red and black diagonal stripes! yikes!
Ta da— http://www.tomnod.com/campaign/campaign_2148/question/364098

Land masses

Brown rock masses – either windswept or partly covered by snow. Can be huge shapes. Saw one tonight that looked the size of SE USA (Florida plus swampland, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina…).
(example: http://www.tomnod.com/campaign/campaign_2148/question/433524 )
So purdy! http://www.tomnod.com/campaign/campaign_2148/question/387721 )
Black rock masses – Jet Black, often smaller than the brown ones, but striking. Most have snow. Many are tall.
(example of black rock with blue bonanza shapes: http://www.tomnod.com/campaign/campaign_2148/question/399697 )
(see bottom of poly: http://www.tomnod.com/campaign/campaign_2148/question/436950 )
(Carve it out ! http://www.tomnod.com/campaign/campaign_2148/question/395252 )

White, Grayish, or Bluish windswept snow – Mostly a flat canvas. May have little flecks (or dirty monitor screen?), but “nothingness” predominantly… ** This is most of our “No Seals” votes.

Fake ice breaks— These are a snow cliff with a shadow that makes it look like a natural “line” of broken ice. Blobs on one side or on top of the cliff can look like seals, but are usually rocks. This is a perception game. Tilt your head or look away to see the height of the cliff. No seals can jump that high… it turns out not to be ice break at all.
(example: http://www.tomnod.com/campaign/campaign_2148/question/448832 )
(example2: Is it open water? or a cliff? hint: cliff http://www.tomnod.com/campaign/campaign_2148/question/419714 )

Cookie Cutter depressions in snow-
Can look like cookie baking sheets, pots, pans, round, square, abstract… tonight, some looked like irons (to iron clothing) with a pointy end and a square back.
(example: http://www.tomnod.com/campaign/campaign_2148/question/409764 )
(example2: http://www.tomnod.com/campaign/campaign_2148/question/450439 )
(example 3 – Why are there so many triangular iron shapes?
http://www.tomnod.com/campaign/campaign_2148/question/341946 )
Wormy Wiiggly depressions (see above)

"Baked* raised forms.
Rather than depressed, these have height. This is where Jim and others post ones that look like animals or faces… albeit, giants!

The broken "hieroglyphics*
These look like some giant kid drew all over the snow! The scene is completely covered. Some look like things we know; others are abstract lines. Very pretty. Reminds me of lace on a window.
(example: http://www.tomnod.com/campaign/campaign_2148/question/501235 )

Beautiful Blue Broken Bonanzas!
Looks like The Creator just could not stand any more white snow! Lots of diamonds and other geometrical shapes! (No seals)

Black Waters and Cliffs
Jet black-- often showing the side of a cliff, other side is snow. Deceiving. Has height. Seal would have to be a High Jumper – not likely!
example: http://www.tomnod.com/campaign/campaign_2148/question/410715
example2: http://www.tomnod.com/campaign/campaign_2148/question/492012

Broken ice with ice and snow mounds
These have deep sides; height. And odd shapes. No seal gonna jump that high to get out.

Flat Very, Very Broken ice…water between
Self explanatory. Seals might be nearer the “shore” of a full landmass.
(example: http://www.tomnod.com/campaign/campaign_2148/question/500024 )
(another: http://www.tomnod.com/campaign/campaign_2148/question/338817 )
A broken “line”, like a river
You might find seals along here.

We’ve also seen what looks like the top of a volcano.

A few miles under the ice is supposed to be a towering mountain range… which has a fresh water lake at its base…

So, that’s my take.


:fish_cake: anyone?

OoooOoo I forgot to mention these, which I think are moving glaciers?

And I forgot pock marks

Pock marks can sometimes look like seals…

Then, there are the ghostly cloud-lands:

We call this bad examples of Grandpa’s wall spackling and plastering:

Nature likes to produce woven patterns evenly spaced…

http://www.tomnod.com/campaign/campaign_2148/question/490689 — so kewl.
And Ice Spikes and Ice Bridges… no railings! Watch yer step (zoom out…)
Breaks & Refreezes

Follow in my giant footsteps


Another thing to ask yourself is: are the blobs only along ridges/snow drifts? If so, they could simply be shadows. However, if you compare the direction of the blobs with the direction of the ridges/snow drifts, you may find some not lined up with them. Those are usually the seals. You may also find seals in a curled or “L” position. Many times I have found myself debating myself as I zoomed in and out several times - and many times decided they were either shadows or “dirty ice.”


Thank you Cagey for putting this list together. It is very helpful. I find Antarctica to be terra incognita. There are no points of reference. When looking at a map such as PR I know what i am looking at, even ocean searches have a frame of reference (even if it is just in my head). Antarctica is mainly vast whiteness with enormous snow and ice formations.


@Jim7 @Shaul @Martin_Ebel Have you guys been playing with the modeling clay again?


sorry, mom :pensive:


I wasn’t our fault! The window was open and the wind blew all our stuff on the floor! Really! :innocent:


Cold, stiff wind all the way to Antarctica? :cake:


Remember that big white serving tray you use for the turkey? Well… ah… the cat knocked it off the table. :grimacing:


In that link you’ve posted, what I’ve ringed in Red are what I think are seals.
Ringed in Blue I’m not sure of, could be baby seals left whilst mother’s gone fishing or the holes the seals came up through or penguins? I don’t really know :thinking:
Ringed in Black could be seals/penguins

So, because there are a few I would think are seals within that poly, I would tick Seals! :wink:

If I can remember, I’ll try and post a few more links to polys I “think” contain seals Shaul. Because what Mel has said has always been my way of thinking when I’m in doubt, we’re still narrowing it all down for LaRue and her team. I’m not the expert and not expected to be, so our results will be further refined by us tagging the individual seals in the next phase for the experts to further refine, separating the real seals from all the penguins and rocks and shadows we thought were seals :laughing:


More examples of seals, courtesy of @Jim7’s post…erm… @cageycat’s post http://forum.tomnod.com/t/weddell-seal-campaign-neat-pictures/4922/6 :wink:





Ohhhh these are NICE! Thank you @EmeraldEyes @cageycat @Jim7! Gives all the nodders hope they might find some.