It has been a few days since we have left Rothera but I am just getting around to wrapping up my final thoughts. The three days spent at Rothera made everyone feel better– not that 5 weeks on a ship is a terribly long time (given that the crew sails for 4 months before going home) but going outdoors for a walk, indoor climbing, skiing or crawling into a crevasse was a nice change. I also found it challenging to think about what it would be like to over-winter at a remote place where there can be no access 6-7 months a year. Having spoken to some of the winterers, especially the divers who dive year-round, now I don’t think it would be that bad an experience at all.
Speaking of diving, we visited the Bonner Lab, where the marine biologists who are also divers work. They keep samples of most of the species they can collect by diving (Antarctic octopuses live deep so they can not be collected by divers). They do temperature change experiments to see how the species (or if the can) adapt to warming waters. They cut of arms off the brittle stars (who are capable of growing them back) and then monitor the rate it grows back at different temperatures. They dive with dry suits, along with a high pressure steel tank and a pony bottle. They use full-face masks which allow communications to the surface through pushing a button. We were told this was brought along as a safety measure after the incident in 2003 where a leopard seal drowned a marine biologist who was snorkelling.

Jeff teaching us how to climb

Walking back to the JCR from the base

The dive locker

The decompression chamber, around which the whole building was built

Looks like there was a disagreement about which way was up! Photo by Clay.

snowboarders going back up the hill

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