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Jax Professor's Antarctic Seal Study May Be Postponed Following Government Shutdown

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The government shutdown ended Thursday, but the deal may have come too late to save one University of North Florida professor’s dream project for this year.UNF biology professor Dr. Julie Richmond planned to go to McMurdo Station research center in Antarctica this fall to study Weddell Seal mothers and their pups, a trip she called a "lifetime dream" since childhood. 

But, the National Science Foundation runs McMurdo, and when the government shut down the station switched over to caretaker status.

“Which means that all of the support personnel were evacuated from the facility and only a skeleton crew remained to make sure that the buildings remained intact,” Richmond explained.

With the end of the government shutdown, it’s expected that operations at McMurdo Station will soon return to normal, but it may not be soon enough for Richmond.  She’s only got a two to three week window in which to gather the data she needs.   

"If we can’t make it down there by mid-November, we’re pretty much out of luck for the entire year," she said.

Richmond is hopeful that the trip will postponed until next November. She will find out in the coming days whether it will proceed as planned this year or postponed.

You can follow Cyd on Twitter @cydwjctnews.