29 October, 1998
It is hard to imagine but one week from today I will be on a plane headed back to the United States and Kentucky. I am ready to go. This has been an exciting trip. One I will remember for the rest of my life. In fact, I do not see how it will ever be topped. I will leave a small piece of me here since I know I will never be able to return here. I am ready to go because I miss my family and my students. I have so much to share with them.
Today was another of those fantastic days. We flew 30 minutes by helicopter to a place on the mainland called New Harbor. We went there to collect fish but we also spent some time sightseeing. At this harbor is a small semi-permanent camp set up where other researchers are studying foraminifera which are small protists, about 1 millimeter in diameter. To get these protists divers have to dive beneath the ice and vacuum up the top 1 cm layer of sediment. After that they painstakingly piece through the sediment to remove these organisms. What is so unusual about these protists is that they take small pebbles, microscopic almost and glue them to their body to form a protective wall. Unless you knew what you were looking for you would never know they are living organisms. Another interesting thing about them is that there are different types that use different types and sizes of pebbles. One type excretes a calcium carbonate shell instead of glueing pebbles to its body.
The divers have to be hardy. They spend 30 to 40 minutes in water that is just below the freezing point. This guys have to have "grit" to withstand these waters.
After we had caught over 50 fish we tried some mountain hiking. There was almost no snow on the ground there. The ground was nothing but glacial moraine. There were rocks and boulders everywhere made of granite. The was varied in color from black and white pigments to red pigments.
The harbor sits at the base of a long valley. As you climb the hills around the valley you can see for miles back. You could see several mountain glaciers that seemed to pour out of the mountains down to the valley floor. Glaciers are truly rivers of ice. It was a beautiful sight, desolate but beautiful.
On the flight back to McMurdo I fell asleep. That has got to be the first time that has happened to me since I got here. I can tell I am tiring when I get sleepy with such beautiful sights going on around me. When I got back here to McMurdo I had to head back into the lab. That is what I have been doing for the last two hours. Tomorrow I may go fishing on the snowmobiles.
That closes out another day in Antarctica. Bye for now.
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