30 November 2004

Mike writing

Another action-packed day here at McMurdo as we wind up our Antarctic tour. Stacy did yet another dive at the sewer outfall to deal with the time-lapse video camera this morning. I'm starting to think she really ENJOYS diving at this spot - perhaps the anticipation of seeing what everybody's favorite food was at dinner the night before?

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Meanwhile, the chipping and dipping crew (which consisted of Jennifer, Andrew, and I) headed out to Hut Point to drill our final dive holes. If you are following these updates religiously - as I know some of you are - you may remember the Hut Point site as "the cursed hole" that we could just never get right. We spent a lot of time melting a hole here with the Hotsy, only to realize that it was in the wrong place. So this time we begged and pleaded with the drillers and offered them lots of candy to drill a hole for us, and to our amazement and relief they accepted! We actually had them drill 3 holes as long as we had them there in order to have 2 safety holes accessible for dealing with underwater currents.

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It was a cold, windy day out there, and Mt. Erebus - as you can tell, one of my favorite photographic subjects - was dressed in cloud formations that indicated high winds at altitude: note the lens-shaped "lenticular" clouds at its peak.

Jennifer, Andrew, and Rob went diving in the afternoon at the jetty to collect the last of the monitoring data, with me and a couple of volunteers to dive tend. Poor Jennifer had a leak in her glove and came rocketing back to the surface for a quick change. Not a great way to start the dive, but everything went as planned thereafter and they finished with air to spare. "Mission Accomplished", as our president would say!

Stacy did ANOTHER dive at the outfall in the afternoon (she just can't get enough, while the rest of us prepared for our outing to Cape Royds tomorrow to look at the effects of nutrient enrichment of benthic communities due to penguin guano (i.e. "poo"). More on that in tomorrow's update.

It was a lovely evening, albeit a bit windy, as you can see by the plumes of snow blowing around in the mountains on the other side of the sound. Since we will be diving outside tomorrow and traveling across sea ice that's starting to show signs of movement, we hope that it'll die down overnight.

We wrapped up our night with a nightcap at the Coffee House to celebrate the birthday of "The Paul-inator" (as we affectionately call him), a beaker (read: scientist) in one of the other labs. We all drifted off to bed one by one, to dream about the men in tuxedos that we hope to see tomorrow at the Cape Royds penguin colony... Good night!

Lets see the next day!