10 November 2003
The weather here at New Harbor has been stellar for the last couple days so we were surprised to wake up to howling wind this morning. Strong wind and outdoor diving do not go well together, especially at Cape Bernacchi which is an hour north of us. The original morning plan was for Stacy and Jenn to go out and finish collecting the 12 remaining experimental cores at Cape Bernacchi which would complete the diving at this remote site. However, with the wind blowing at about 20 knots, Stacy decided we might as well chill and so we slept until 9AM. By the time we had all gotten dressed and eaten breakfast (we had freshly brewed Pete's coffee, thanks to Rob who brought Craig's care package out here and Rex who sent us a coffee grinder via Victoria) the wind had died down and the trip to Cape Bernacchi was back on the schedule. Jim volunteered to dive tend and Dan and I did rock, paper, scissors to see who would be the other dive tender. I won and stayed behind at camp--the exhaust fumes from the skidoos about do you in on the trip to and from this site.
|Jonna and Jenn - breakfast with fresh ground coffee! (Jen apparently needs quite a bit MORE coffee...ed.)|
Stacy and Jenn got burrito rolled and packed on the Siglund sled for the ride behind the skidoo and Dan and Jim caravanned out to Cape Bernacchi. When they arrived there were four Weddell seals at the site, two in a dive hole and two on the surface. The two seals in the water were intrigued with Stacy and Jenn and their equipment. The seals followed them around during their dive and when they had finished their safety stop and were ready to get out of the water Jenn had to get the seals out of the hole by blowing bubbles under them and then guarding the hole with her fins.
|Two of the four Weddell seals at our Cape Bernacchi hole.|
|Jim playing his penny whistle for the seals while tending Stacy and Jenn.|
Back at camp Craig and I were domestic doing chores like chipping ice, filling fuel tanks, sweeping, and getting a lunch of leftovers ready. I caught a quick cat nap which felt really good and before we knew it the divers were back, successfully having collected the desired 12 cores. These cores constitute the last cores that we will sieve for this years ASPIRE project--that is unless Stacy designs a new experiment or changes her mind about one of the existing experiments or adds a new research site--any of the above are equally possible.
While we were sieving Stacy had the slightly devious idea of playing a little practical joke on Craig and Rob who were out diving. It seems that at any one time all of us are missing something such as a hat, a bottle of sunscreen, a camera, a pair of socks, gloves, a water bottle--you name it, we have lost it--and are constantly wandering around looking for it. So, Stacy thought that hiding Craig and Rob's pants would be funny. When they returned and started to get dressed, Craig started mumbling and said "where the heck are my pants" as he headed for the Jamesway in his long underwear. Stacy and I were swallowing our giggles because we didn't want Rob to clue in to our joke. Soon Rob was ready to get dressed and started rooting around for his pants. Stacy and I couldn't hold back our laughter and started guffawing and hooting. At this Rob realized he and Craig were the victims of our humor. About this time Craig bounded in to the dive locker going directly for Stacy. It turns out that Jim, who was supposed to be in cahoots with us, had spilled the beans, feeling that solidarity with his McMurdo roommate was more important than keeping our secret (Jim would NEVER have condoned or participated in such a dastardly plot. ed.). Craig put Stacy over his shoulder and carried her out to a pile of snow where, with Rob's help, he put snow down her shirt and pants. I, meanwhile, was sheepishly watching out the window, knowing I was no match for Craig and Rob but also knowing that I should be defending Stacy. Well, I got my just desserts later. Rob came back in the dive locker and was innocently helping us clean up after sieving and as we were headed back to the Jamesway, much to my surprise, he threw me over his shoulder and carried me out to a snow pile where I got the same treatment as Stacy had received.
In the afternoon Dan the Man and I went diving at the 30m site after Craig and Rob returned from their dive at the circus site. There has been an ongoing discussion of the attributes of the 30m site compared to the circus site. Rob, who has done more diving at New Harbor than all of us combined times ten, says that the 30m site is one of the nicest dives he has done here. Most of us feel that the circus site is a more aesthetically pleasing site. Both are sites where Paul Dayton conducted extensive research 25 years ago and as such have all kinds of experimental paraphernalia including 30 foot floating rope columns, PVC racks, cages, and Tupperware sediment traps. These experimental set-ups are covered with wonderful sessile invertebrates including large sponges which usually harbor one or two (sometimes more) crinoids, bryozoans, hydroids, and soft corals. Stacy is doing a follow-up study to Paul's work and is really excited to have found all his sites in such amazingly good shape.
|Sponge with crinoids.||Sponge attached to floating rope column.|
Sea stars and sea urchins are attracted to the structures and are found crawling on and about them. The fish here are a lot more wiley than on the other side of the sound. Trying to catch New Harbor Trematomus is nearly impossible whereas near McMurdo you can just grab them with your gloved hand. Here you have to sneak up on them and swoop them into a goody bag. Another oddity is that over here the fish swim in the water column a lot and on occasion a fish will take an interest in one of us and follow us around for awhile. One of my absolute favorite marine invertebrates (in addition to the lamellarian gastropod) is Gersemia antarctica, a beautiful soft coral that can inflate to over two meters in height and live to 4.5 years of age. Gersemia feeds on plankton that it filters from the water column but it has also been frequently observed on its side presumably feed on benthic diatoms, foraminiferans, and particdulate organic matter. One of Gersemia's main predators is the sea spider Thavmastopyrnon. Gersemia can move like an inch worm and has been observed to move 14m in one year.
|Stacy tending - helping Dan out of the water- you can just make out Dan's head in Stacy's glasses reflection.|
|Gersemia.||Jonna next to a brine tube.|
Today was a busy day with many people and a lot of activity at New Harbor. Victoria and Levi from Communications, came to establish our wireless link back to McMurdo.
|Victoria connecting our wireless link.|
Rob was picked up this morning at 9:15AM to join the Marshians and Mike Lang, Dive Safety Officer from the Smithsonian, diving at Granite Harbor. We were all a bit jealous because Granite Harbor is one of the best dives on this side of the Sound. We made Rob promise to take video to share with us later that night. Rob and Mike returned to New Harbor with impeccable timing; a wonderful dinner of pork tenderloin and left-over asparagus, mashed potatoes, and dressing fresh on the table only minutes ahead of their arrival. Brownies tipped the scale on a wonderful meal.
And just when some of us thought there was no more energy to be had (Rob, Stacy, Jim, and I), we joined Jenn, Craig, and Dan for a hot-box ultimate Frisbee game out on the helo landing area. Our teams consisted of the girls + Dan against the boys. We played a long time but ended the game with a score of two to one - boys ahead. In other words, scoring was not happening much of the time. (The boys obviously didn't want to humiliate the girls TOO badly...ed.) While we were playing we were watched over by a sun dog on the right side of the sun (caused by ice particles in the air refracting light). Here in Antarctica there are a lot of really cool meteorological phenomena that one of us will soon talk about.
Some fun facts about Antarctica:
-The coldest temperature was measured at the Russian station, Vostok, on 21 July 1982, measuring -89.2deg C.
-The highest recorded wind speed being 327 km/hr measured at the French Station, Dumont d'Urville in July 1972.
-The area of Antarctica is 13,661,000 km^2
-Antarctica is the highest continent, with a mean height above sea level of 2500m. The highest peak is Vinson Massif at 4897m.
-Antarctica has >90% of the planets' ice, with ice over 4700m thick in some places. (There is a t-shirt that reads "Ski South Pole: 6inches of powder, 10,000feet of base" - for all those skiers out there)
-Antarctica is home to 7 species of Penguins, the largest being the Emperor (which overwinters on the Antarctic ice withstanding temperatures below -40degC/F).