12 February, 1998
Today had a lot in store for us! We were given "orders" yesterday that tonight we were to pay homage to King Neptune's Court since we had crossed the Antarctic Circle 4 times on this cruise. We had to face his court and answer to our grievous charges against King Neptune. Not only that, we had to entertain him, too! Those of us who had not crossed the Antarctic Circle before did some brainstorming and came up with a skit involving impersonations of people on board crowding around the CTD rosette trying to get the "best" water samples. I sat down and wrote out lyrics to "Blow the Man Down" gently "roasting" key people on the cruise -- our worst tormentors!
After the last sampling was done, we had a fire drill. Pretty nifty way to gather us all together, eh? After the drill, the old salts were allowed to leave, trapping the neophytes in the lounge. We were taken down to the wet lab. Every once in awhile we would see someone passing by in waterproof suits. This did NOT look good for us. I cannot say what happened exactly (restricted information, you know), but let's say I was "cleansed" of all my misdeeds against King Neptune!
Rhonda came around saying that we had been cleared to travel by zodiac to see the penguins on Peterson Island! Penguins! And I didn't even suspect that we would be able to leave the boat again until Palmer Station. What a neat thing to sneak up on us after such a tough day. I shouldn't have to tell you, but I was the first in line (after cleaning up). We motored over and there on the rocks to greet us were gentoo penguins. I had not yet seen gentoos. They are very calm and didn't pay us much attention at all. The chicks were in the last stages of moulting. They were standing still and the feathers were dropping like snow flakes. Worst case of dandruff I ever did see. The ground was white around each chick with the down feathers.
Peterson Island is an old Argentine research base. It still has two huts standing. The newest one, built in the 1950's, had a coal burning stove and 6 bunk beds in the back -- 3 high. Rather primitive. And I think I've had it hard trying to do research on a comfortable vessel.
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