16 February, 1998
Hello from the Ross Sea! Well, we are certainly learning that things do not always go as planned! This morning, we woke up fully expecting calm weather . . . and the winds were back up to 40 mph! We started a Multibeam survey of the area, and the Multibeam broke down. We continued our survey anyway with the Bathy-2000. Every 15 minutes, we wrote down the depth on a large map according to the Bathy (plotting it according to the correct latitude/longitude coordinates. The contour lines were sketched in by hand as the amount of data permitted. It's not as accurate as the Multibeam, but we were still able to get an idea about the bathymetry of the land beneath the water. We were all very relieved to find out that the Multibeam was up and running again by about 4:45 p.m.
We continued gathering Bathy-2000 data all morning . . . even though the seas were still fairly rough. Thankfully, I think I'm used to the waves now because they didn't bother me at all (except, of course, for the nuisance of constantly holding on to things like cups to make sure they don't fall over). By about 11:00 a.m., we ended up back in ice and looking for a core site. It was great to core again! We ended up taking 4 cores before our shift was over. In order to compensate for the high winds, the Mates would turn the ship so that the ship itself helped to block some of the wind. Even though we were close to the ice, there were still some swells, however. One of these swells caused our second kasten core to go swinging into the back end of the ship on its way back up on deck. We lost the metal end of the corer (called the "nose"). It's a good thing that J.P. can weld another one. The first kasten core only had about 12 inches of sediments -- with a lot of sand and gravel. The second kasten core was empty (if it loses the nose, all the stuff falls out). Both of the grab samples were basically empty. What did we learn from all that? That the bottom in that parcticular area is very hard! The night crew is hoping to do some more coring and eventually begin a deep tow survey in the area between Coulman Island and the continent. Tomorrow morning, we should be heading a little farther south towards Drygalski Glacier. Who was Drygalski?
Let's take a look at yesterday's question: "When do you suppose the first women visited the Antarctic continent?" The first woman to set foot on the continent was Caroline Mikkelsen from Norway. She landed at Vestfold Hills on February 20, 1935, with her husband who was a whaler. The first women to winter in Antarctica were Edith Ronne and Jennie Darlington in 1947. They spent a year with their husbands on Stonington Island in the Antarctic Peninsula region during the Ronne Antarctic Research Expedition (American naval commander Finn Ronne led this expedition which discovered the Ronne Ice Shelf at the southern coast of the Weddell Sea). The first women to see the South Pole were two stewardesses aboard a commercial flight that flew over the Pole as it traveled from Christchurch to McMurdo in 1957.
It wasn't until 1969 that the United States finally allowed women to parcticipate in the national Antarctic program. That year, a team of four women geologists as well as a husband/wife team worked on the continent. In November of that year, the first women arrived at the South Pole . . . but she only spent a few hours there before flying back to McMurdo Station. In 1974, American biologist Mary Alice McWhinnie became the first woman to be named as the chief scientist at McMurdo station. That season, she and another woman colleague became the first women to winter at McMurdo Station.
Today, women scientists in Antarctica are not unusual. There are no more questions about physical strength or the difficulty of providing separate toilet facilities. Women are an integral part of science in Antarctica . . . just like they are an integral part of science in any other location. In fact, we have 5 women and only 3 men in our group of scientists aboard the Nathaniel B. Palmer! Over the next day or two, we'll take some time to introduce each of these scientists in the journal entries. I continue to look forward to your email questions and communication. Please remember that you only have 2 more days to send your email to the address aboard the NBP. After that, send it to my school address. The days are going quickly . . . and I'm enjoying each one to its fullest! I'll be back tomorrow!
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