10 November, 1998
Wow, the dorm here at McMurdo was loud last night! I was wearing earplugs and still could hear people around 3:00 am...not at all like Lake Bonney. I woke up at 6:30 am with the intention of catching up on my journaling today.
I ate breakfast and made a flight request for tomorrow's lunches (Ed, Nina, John, Chris, and I will be coring at Lake Trough tomorrow). I was at the computer lab by 7:15 am and did not move from the computer until 12 noon! Yes, I wanted you to know I am dedicated to sharing my adventure with you...: )
I returned to the lab to see if there was anything I could be doing for our trip tomorrow. I acid-washed some 125-ml sample bottles for Chris (this ensures that they are very clean) and finished a sediment weighing for him.
As it seemed there was a break in the action, I decided to visit the old aquarium on the ice and the new aquarium at Crary to see what they were collecting and studying from the sea. They had huge tanks of Antarctic Cod (they are huge!...the largest one they have caught in the past was 1.65 m and 240 lbs.). [Did you notice how I mixed the metric and English system there?] There were tanks of sea urchins, starfish, sponges, worms, sea squirts, sea anemones, dragon fish, and fish called Trematomus Bernachii. These fish would swim along the top of the tank and stick their faces out of the water all along the length of the tank, looking like they were trying to get air. The scientists are not quite sure why they do that. I met Ed Wren, working on Petzel's project, who was very willing to explain to me what he was doing in the lab. I caught him in the middle of working on a fish. He was injecting cortisol implants into tranquilized Trematomus Bernachii so that they could study the effects of the hormone on the levels of salt in their blood. These fish normally have double the concentration of salt in their blood (maybe helping them not freeze as quickly?). They are also using thyroid and prolactin implants to compare the differences between the hormones and the roles of the hormones on salt regulation. Pretty interesting stuff...
I saw my first bird since I've been here-- a skua. Skuas are large, gull-like birds that love garbage or penguin eggs or penguin chicks. They also feed on Antarctic krill at sea. They are some of the first birds to be seen as it warms up, I guess.
I'll tell you a little about McMurdo in this journal, since I will be leaving MacTown (as it is called) tomorrow morning for Lake Bonney again. The U.S. McMurdo Station is Antarctica's largest station. It can hold up to 1200 people in the summer and only about 200 people during the winter. Before 1990, the recycling of waste was nil...all trash used to be hauled out onto the sea ice before the annual breakup of the ice and dumped. Today, there are extensive measures in place to recycle at least 70% of all wastes! One exception...the sewage is still dumped under the ice...they're working on it.
McMurdo has its own hospital, church, post office, weight room, bowling alley, barbershop, library, video store, two clubs, a coffeehouse, shuttle buses, fuel tanks, a hydroponics greenhouse, a seawater reverse osmosis desalination plant, a diving recompression chamber, and myriads of tiny buildings housing camping equipment, waste management, electrical supplies, food, etc. McMurdo has an intranet system with all of the local news and weather on the site. The station's six-page paper, The Antarctic Sun Times, is published weekly during the summer. Recreation at McMurdo includes: aerobics, basketball, bicycling, volleyball, tae kwon do, country dancing, bingo, bowling, chili cook-offs, art shows, darts, soccer, softball, table tennis, and even golf. There are Sunday Science Lectures on a variety of subjects, computer classes, CPR training, the Ross Island Drama Festival, and the Icestock rock and comedy festival. McMurdo is a small town away from your home town. Many people are down here for 3 - 4 months and they want the conveniences of home. It still looks like a small mining town, though...
At 4:00 pm I went to do a food pull once more. We were running out of goodies at camp. We had the LTER team come into camp last Thursday, and we were running a little low on our favorites. I pulled more Raro packets (a Kool-Aid type drink down here), Tang, granola bars, chocolate bars, gorp, crackers, soups, and munchies. I also pulled more frozen goods that we had gone through pretty quickly (pizza dough, halibut steaks, shrimp, shredded cheese, lunch meats, and frozen veggies). Since the frozen goods need to be kept frozen, I'll pick up those boxes tomorrow morning before we are picked up to go to the helicopter. After eating dinner, I decided to hop on the shuttle to Scott Base (the Kiwi's base) just 15 minutes over the hill from us. I took some pictures and did some minor shopping in their store. Scott Base is actually fairly small and made up of a cluster of lime-green buildings. It can accommodate up to 70 people in the summer and 11 in the winter. From their base overlooking the sea ice, I could see huge mounds in the ice along fracture lines, caused by the pressure of the ice against the shoreline pushing the ice up into large spectacular formations on the surface. I returned to McMurdo after about a 45-minute trip.
I caught up on a few errands that I needed to do before we leave tomorrow...made a list of last-minute things I need to remember to take to Lake Bonney...and now I'm catching up on this journal and the photos for today. It's 10:45 pm, and I'm going to bed...I miss you, Dan!
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