My cabinmate Kerri said it best: “Today I felt like I got my butt kicked by Antarctica”. (Kerri is in special group of people on the JCR known as ‘the Canadians’, all of whom have significant sea ice experience.)

To recap, we finished our work in the Weddell Sea and headed south into the Bellingshausen Sea 4 days ago. This is why I have not posted anything for 4 days, because a combination of seasickness and exhaustion has allowed me to sleep for 4 whole days which felt like one really long day.
Back in open water during our transit, we had high seas (at one point a 25 degree roll which sent all unsecured items in our cabin flying across) and as expected we found the weather conditions to be much rougher at the Bellingshausen Sea. We have spent two days on a station now, and it has not been easy to work on ice with heavy winds and occasional blizzards. Perhaps the only way this helps us indirectly is that through persistent winds, the snow on the surface of the ice has been “wind-packed”, so you don’t sink as much as fresh snow when you try to walk (as you can imagine this is a big deal for me, because being 5’2″ tall (159 cm), I had a serious problem sinking 1.5 meters into the snow with each step). But otherwise, it is wet, gloomy, cold — this is real Antarctica, the Weddell Sea has spoiled us!
Nevertheless, we have completed a successful two-day station on the ice surface, the AUV has been deployed and recovered after mapping the bottom of the ice and large, neon-painted cardboard boxes full of snow have been left out for the Twin Otter airplane that will be surveying this spot later on. As of tonight we have left this station and are moving southwest, aided by satellite images of the ice sheet, to find a bigger chunk of open water for our next station. There are odd shaped icebergs all around us; it makes me smile to remember how excited we got after having spotted the very first iceberg.

Clay and his new friend


You animals in the orange suits look really fat.

First station at the Bellingshausen Sea

Local inspector that has come to check our papers

Susanne in the middle of her commute

Eric planning a big surprise for Valentine's Day.

To our amazement, this is already the third time our cabins got inspected. This means we have been onboard the JCR for three whole weeks. Every sunday, the captain personally inspects the cabins for tidiness, and believe it or not looks into your toilet bowl to see if you have sprayed the green chemical you were supposed to use once a day to keep the system happy. This happens between 10-10:30 AM on Sundays, and as you can guess we just spray the green chemical 7 times at 9:45 on Sundays to make up for the whole week….

A note on the penguins. Most of you ask me where they come from and if you can just walk up to them. Usually when we pull up at a station, they hear the ship and come to see what’s going on. They are quite friendly, although we all know to keep a safe distance from wildlife in general. They will usually come from the water -what seems to us like out of nowhere-, climb on the ice and come up to us, or our orange traffic cones which seem to attract them a lot, and then say “guuuu guuuu” in a resonant way and flap their wings. Whatever it is they are saying, we usually can’t give a satisfying answer, and they just move on inspecting one person to the next, or from one cone to the other hoping to figure out what we are. While very hydrodynamic in water, they are very clumsy on their feet. However they have conveniently evolved to flop on their bellies, “row” with their wings while pushing forward with their feet and tail on the snow/ice, and that way they travel quite easily. To get up from their bellies onto their feet, they push up with their beaks. They are VERY fat.

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply