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28 February, 2002


The research and supply ship Laurence McKinley Gould does many things. It takes scientists to places in the Southern Ocean where they need to do their work. The Gould also travels between Punta Arenas, Chile, and Palmer Station, Antarctica. When it makes this trip, the ship carries cargo and people.

Scientists and support staff come to Palmer Station for a time of work. When they leave to go back home (go north), there is a Palmer Station tradition. That tradition is the "Polar Plunge". As the Gould leaves Palmer Station, many people staying behind will jump into the waters of Hero Inlet!!! They don't stay in the water very long, because the water is extremely cold. In fact, it is often below freezing!

When we left Palmer Station on February 27th, it was snowing. Twelve people jumped into the water to say goodbye. They climbed out on the rocks or up the ladder onto the pier. Then they ran to the outdoor hot tub to get warm. Those of us who were on the ship were watching until the snow blurred our vision.

OK, here's the math: seven women and five men did the "Polar Plunge". Which group represented more of their gender on station?

Here's the information you need. On February 26, 2002, there were 22 women and 20 men at Palmer Station. On February 27, 2002, 3 women and 5 men left on the Gould (along with the crew and other scientists who had been doing research). So, with the number of men and women remaining at Palmer Station, did a greater percentage of the men do the "Polar Plunge", or did a greater percentage of the women do the "Polar Plunge"?

Here's another problem: one of the men actually jumped in twice!! Do you count him as a different plunger, or not? If you do, how does that change the percentages?

All these photos are courtesy of Andy Nunn, who was the electronics technician on the Gould for this voyage.

3. Here is a beautiful swan dive. The large black object from which they are jumping (or diving) is a fender. It protects the pier and the ship from damage when the ship is docked at the station.

2. Notice that some of the people are going to take photos!

5. Notice that people always wear socks, and sometimes shoes, when they do the "Polar Plunge". People who had done the plunge earlier told me that having something on your feet is very important! When the plungers get out of the water, they have to walk across gravel to get to the hot tub.

4. Here is another person's style of doing the "Polar Plunge".

1. Polar Plunge: as the Gould leaves the pier, people get ready to take the plunge!

6. No one lingers in the water for very long!

7. People are still lining up to take the Polar Plunge!! In some of these photos, you can see that it is still snowing!

8. There are still at least two jumpers ready to take the Polar Plunge!

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