Mischief in McMurdo

Dave got back safe and sound from WAIS deep field camp. When asked to describe his thoughts on camp, it pretty much summed up to “flat and white.” I’ll post some pictures for it next time. He made it back in time for Thanksgiving – yay! We celebrated Mashed Potatoes Day with the FSTP crew.

Thanksgiving

The following weekend, Dave and I got to spend Sunday together. Doesn’t happen much for us, since my schedule isn’t like everyone elses in town. There was an incredible craft fair put on that day, you wouldn’t believe how talented people here are. Everything from custom-made stone jewelry, knitted hats and homemade glassware. We picked up a few more gifts for family and friends, so be on the lookout. We stopped into Crary Lab and our friend, Abe, took us to see the Dissostichus mawsoni (Antarctic toothfish). They can live up to 50 years, grow as large as several hundred pounds and have an “antifreeze” protein in their blood that enables them to live in the freezing temperatures in the Antarctic ocean. Researchers used to easily find them in the waters here, now however, they’re being commercially fished and sold as Chilean Sea bass which is decimating their population numbers. This years findings were a big deal. They were gorgeous fish, curious too. They’d come up to you when you’d approach their tank and you could see their eyes turn upwards to look at you. They’ll be released shortly, but are being held temporarily to ensure they aren’t counted twice this season while scientists continue to look into their numbers. It’s amazing to look at this fish, older than I am, that we know so little about. It was humbling.

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They also brought up a little octopus, too! One of my favorites! They’ll be releasing him as well.

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And…Dave’s off again to a deep field camp. Damn! He’s now at Siple Dome (fondly referred to as ‘Siple Doom’ because of the bad weather and lack of planes getting in or out). I finally got to do my Happy Camper course and spent the night in a snow trench I dug out. Never thought I’d say those words: I spent the night in a snow trench in Antarctica, on an ice shelf. Surreal! The FSTP guys had fun with it – I found about 15 pounds worth of stones in my backpack (after I’d lugged the thing around for the day) and a fake Cobra in my sleeping bag. Jokes on them, I peed in my sleeping bag. Really. One skill that I’m hoping to master during my time here is how to successfully pee in a Freshette (She-Wee) and subsequently, into a bottle. Guys have it easy, you just put your whoo-ha into pee bottle and let loose. Women here understand the time dedicated to mastering the Freshette. There are many urine themed stories of camaraderie here.

Dave and I had signed up for the pressure ridge tour, but Dave wasn’t able to make it (due to the Doom). So I went solo. It was incredible. There was a big ol’ seal lounging around in the path to welcome us, close enough that we could touch her. But we didn’t.

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The pressure ridges are conceptually similar to mountains, only in a much more isolated and small variety. The sea ice is compressed due to winds and current and starts to smash into itself, creating ice ridges that violently jut out of the ice sheet. The wind then shapes the ridges into beautiful formations. You feel like you’re walking on a different planet, surrounded by exotic and artistic ice sculptures, rimmed with the most beautiful blue melt pools.

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A stuffed red onesie, somehow firmly positioned on the top of the fuel truck. It’s been cruising around McMurdo in honor of the holiday season. I thought it was funny.