22 October, 1995

Sunday October 22, 1995

The last few days weather wise have been out of sight, stellar, and/or awesome depending upon your ability to translate the new age adjectives for rad, bad, cool man. It has been sunny, light winds, and warm, warm temperature of -1.000 degrees centigrade. I even had my shirt off for a while trying to gets some rays. The biggest stand up tanning salon on earth. Two nights ago was one of the most awesome evenings in a nature setting I have ever experienced. I have seen sunsets to end all sunsets, and views from mountains, and hills, and also from boats and ships, but nothing compared to the evening in a ice berg filled bay here in the Gerlache Strait. The pack ice is moving and at night you never have any idea how much how much it will move in the dark, so each morning you wake up, a new waterscape greets you. The evening had absolutely no wind and the ice itself tends to dampen the water.

As the evening was beginning, the captain of the Polar Duke took us over to the most awesome iceberg I have ever seen. Not in size, but in shape. It looked like a fairytale castle with its spires and blocks of ice. It was hard to realize that it was a block of ice, not a carved castle of ice. It had a mirror image of itself in the glass like water surrounding it so that it was almost impossible to decide which was up and which was down. Small pieces of ice the size of cups and saucers float around the bay and it is really weird to see because you expect to see them melt right before your eyes and they don't. There are ice pieces that look like the backs of dinosaurs swimming in the water. On the horizon, you see entire fleets of ships and their shadows which look like they are invading from whence they come. Ice carvings look like flowers, dancers, and everything you mind imagines them to be. It really is truly awesome to see.

We have seen penguins swimming off the stern of the ship in the early morning while we were pumping water and Minke whales are starting to be seen. The Humpback whales have not come into the strait yet, but we are certain they will. Seals sleep on pieces of the pack ice and the dangerous seals are the leopard seal, which would attack you if you put yourself in the position to be attacked.

The sky at night now has a faint glow to it all night long, so there is a part of the sky that doesn't get completely dark and that is pretty cool. I will watch it now and probably notice that it will get lighter over the next three weeks. I don't know if I have told you all this but we are now four hours different from Washington because it is spring time in this hemisphere and we had to put our clocks forward one hour. So now there is four hours difference between us and you until you go off daylight savings time at the end of October.

We just completed another 24 hour day of pumping water every two hours and I am really tired. I slept this morning for 6 hours and that is the longest continuous sleep I have had so far on this trip. I felt lucky to get it in and apologetic to others for sleeping so long. I am getting a new job on the ship and will beginning being involved in deploying the CTD device (conductivity, temperature, and depth). It is lowered from the ship, (it looks like a big 100 gallon drum only made out of tubing with instruments on it) about 8 feet tall, and will be lowered to a maximum of 500 meters of water. We measure oxygen, temperature, salinity, fluorescence (biologists use that as a measure of life) and some other data, and then this info will be plotted with a color plotter to give up a colored printout. I am excited because it involves more of the technical side of oceanography and I also get to work with some new people involved with the cruise. The hope for me is that within a couple of days, I will be the person deploying the CTD device for the rest of the cruise.

Today there is no wind and the water is absolutely flat with a temperature of -3.000 degrees outside. We are expecting some bad weather with snow tomorrow so it will be cold and wild maybe. Well, this is one incredible experience. There are some down sides; for instance, when we are tired at 1 or 2 in the morning and you want to go to sleep and sometimes pure research is monotonous because you have to get samples over and over again and again and again. However, it is important what is being done here and this is the last untamed, pure environment in the world and should stay that way. I am hoping to integrate that research into my classes. The CTD information can be easily incorporated into classes as it deals with the chemical constituents of the water.

This is one of the last few places on the globe where people have put aside their differences and agreed to study science; the environment, and the continent together. We should ask them why they do this?

Rumor has it that we well be here at this location 4-5 more days sampling before we move. I don't know where we will go but I hope it is someplace not close by. For me it is time to move. We will probably come back here later to finish the sampling.. Oh Joy We have been here for the last twelve days because this is one of the few places with open water. I will try to update you each email with different information and in a different way, but repetition does occur in life and it is what you do with it that does not make it boring. I wish there was some magical way to role model that and have kids experience that concept. So again from 64.13 south latitude and 61.48 west longitude.

Good bye and peace.

George Palo


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