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24 February, 2001

-066 01 Latitude

093 43 Longitude

Life on the ice.

We traveled across the bottom edge of the Indian Ocean often out of sight of the shoreline but not enough to be free of the ice floes. It was hard to stay working inside the lab or microscope room knowing that every ice floe might hold a gem of Antarctic life. We took breaks to go up on deck or to the bridge to gaze across the ice floes in hopes of seeing wildlife. What were distant dark spots on the ice turned into seals as we came closer. Startled from their slumber they would bark at the ship as one annoyed from being woken from a nap. Oftentimes we would see penguins. They can be so camouflaged with the ice that we would only see them as they scurried about, running to the edge of the ice flow then standing at a distance watching the ship pass by. I wondered what they must have been thinking! Once, one of the students looked out and saw an emperor penguin right outside the porthole, not more than 20 yards away showing little or no concern about this huge ship passing by. Our ship is careful to steer around wildlife as this is there home and we are just visitors passing through. Take a look at the picture of the iceberg. Find the dots on the right at the top. Can you guess what they are? Adelie penguins! I can't imagine how long it must have taken them to climb all that way.

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