27 January, 1998
Good Afternoon! We still are working near Cape Adare. I just came in from taking pictures of the Transantarctic Mountains! It is COLD! While I was on deck, I saw several seals and Adelie Penguins floating on the pack ice. I could identify a Leopard Seal and several groups of Crabeater Seals. Leopard Seals can get to be 9 feet long! They are gray and have huge jaws. Penguins are one of their favorite meals. Crabeater Seals are smaller than Leopard Seals. They do not eat crabs, however - they eat krill. They have specially designed teeth to help them strain the krill out of the ocean water. Crabeater Seals like to live on the sea ice. They are the most abundant seal in Antarctica. Our results from the day: We took more cores! This time we used the sea floor imaging systems to help us locate a deep basin with lots and lots of layers of sediment in it. All of the layers together were over 50 meters (150 feet) thick! We collected a core from the basin - but the longest core we can take is 10 meters (30 feet) - so we did not get all of the layers. The sediment we collected was green mud. Do you remember what this tells us? The green comes from the diatoms. The diatoms need sunlight to live, so the all the layers that we collected in the core were deposited (put in place) in the open ocean - much like the environment we are sailing in today! Wow! 30 feet of diatom mud! That is a lot of green mud! We are going to sample the material and then test it to find out how old it is. If the mud is older than the last ice age, this tells us that the ice did not fill this basin during the last ice age - the ice would have left a different type of material as a clue. Right now it is bright and clear and sunny. This morning it was overcast and foggy. During the early afternoon it was snowing! What does this tell you about the weather in Antarctica? It changes very quickly! We get weather maps everyday. We get a 24 hour forecast, too, that tells us about the larger storm systems coming our way. Why are we so concerned about the weather? A big part of working in Antarctica is staying safe. Antarctica is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent on our Earth. Staying safe means preparing for that environment. Knowing about the weather helps us to prepare. Knowing the weather helps us to decide what to wear outside, and if we need to strap down our scientific equipment because a storm is going to create big waves, and if we need to move the ship because the wind may blow the sea ice into the area we are working. It is always easier to PREVENT an emergency from happening than it is to try to fix it! Safety is the most important thing about working in Antarctic. On the ship we have the ship's crew and the team from the Antarctic Support Associates helping us to stay safe. The very first day we came aboard the ship we attended a safety conference. We were told to bring our float suits and our life preservers and extra clothing. We were told where to meet in case of an emergency, such as fire. We then practiced putting on our life preservers. Each one has a whistle and a light. We also got to practice putting on our float suits. These are big orange waterproof suits that cover you from head to toe - only your face sticks out from the suit. If you were to fall into the water with one of these, it would keep you dry and floating so that you could be rescued. It looked like a convention of Gumby Dolls when we all put on our suits! We had a demonstration before we tried to put them on - the record time for getting into a float suit is 37 seconds! I needed about two minutes - I will have to practice! The ship's crew took us to the life boats so that we could see what it was like to get inside. If there was ever a reason to leave the ship, we would go into one of the life boats. Each one holds more than 70 people (and bears my size) and has food and water and an emergency radio and first aid equipment. We do not ever plan to have to use our life preservers or float suits or the life boats, but we need to know how to respond to an emergency to stay safe! A few days ago we had a fire drill! We were working in the laboratory, monitoring the equipment, when suddenly the alarm went off! It was really loud! We each raced to our cabins and got our safety equipment and then we went to the "muster station," the place we were told to meet in an emergency. We all got there in just a few minutes. Our Marine Project Coordinator, Jim Holik, checked each of us off a list. If anyone was missing, we would need to find them right away. While we were at the muster station, the crew of the ship checked all the fire fighting equipment on board. Practicing our drills and checking the equipment helps to prevent problems! We will have a fire drill at least once a week while we are aboard. Right now we are at: 70 degrees 31 minutes south latitude 167 degrees 40 minutes east longitude I know we do not seem to be moving very much - but that is because we are carefully collecting a detailed survey in this area. More from Cape Adare soon - I hope you are well! E. Shackleton BearReturn to E. Shackleton Bear's Page
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