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 

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 Bear

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