31 October 2004 Mike D here.

It was a mellow day for the dive team today. Sunday is our time to relax, recuperate from the previous week (and Saturday night), and regroup for the week ahead. Most of us were exhausted from the Halloween festivities last night, so it was a good thing to sleep in. I woke up at the crack of noon and moseyed over to brunch, then made my way down to the lab. Shortly thereafter I was recruited for dive tending by Kathy and Andrew, who went diving at the McMurdo jetty to collect some mud for a long-term project Kathy is working on (she’ll tell you all about it later).

The highlight of the dive for me was a big fat porker of a seal popping its head up through the dive hole and hanging out with Stacy and I for an all-too-brief minute. I must admit that despite the plethora of beautiful and fascinating invertebrates we see while diving under the ice, it is a pleasant diversion to see some charismatic megafauna up close and personal once in awhile.

Kathy and Andrew had a successful dive and sent us various presents (like buckets of mud and a sponge for Andrew’s experiments) on the tow line that we use for hauling gear and samples up from the bottom. After plucking those turkeys out of the water, we headed back to the station for some dinner and the weekly science lecture. This week’s presentation was about the flow dynamics of the West Antarctic ice sheet (the region most susceptible to the effects of global warming) and the water beneath it. Among other things, the lecture highlighted the connection between how what happens in Antarctica affects economic, social, and ecological systems elsewhere in the world. As this was a slow day and I don’t have many pictures, I thought I’d just post some pictures that I’ve taken in the last couple of weeks that didn’t make it to the website. Enjoy!

A view from the window of the C-17 as we transited the continent at cruising altitude. Welcome back to the ice age...

Mt. Erebus (the smoking volcano) and Castle Rock (far right), from the beginning of the 7-mile Castle Rock loop trail that starts in back of the station. This trail is one of the primary recreational opportunities available to station personnel.

Mt. Erebus from the top of Castle Rock

The 800 foot ridge of the Hut Point Peninsula viewed from the Ross Ice Shelf (part of the Castle Rock trail). Note the "snow snakes" of blowing snow created by strong winds.

Ditto.

The Gang, letting gravity do the work on the way down from Castle Rock.

Our campsite on the sea ice near Cape Chocolate

Hobbs Glacier and moraine from our campsite near Cape Chocolate

Pressure ridges on western shore of McMurdo Sound

Pressure ridges and cracks around moraine of Hobbs Glacier

Our bathroom behind the pressure ridges at Cape Chocolate (note 2 5-gallon buckets in mid-ground. See Jennifer's last update for details of procedures for disposal of human waste from field camps). I can think of worse places for an "office"!

Daily weather stats: Maximum temperature: a balmy 16° F (about the highest temperature since we've been here) Minimum temp: -3° F Minimum windchill: -44° F Maximum wind gust: 26 knots Sunset: 12:38 p.m.

Lets see the next day!