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December 5-6th, 2013

Sediment Sampling Completed

by Terry Palmer


Yesterday (the 5th) was a quiet day. We caught up on some office work and completed some shipping preparation for our samples.  We also caught up on other non-Antarctic work.

In the evening, I was invited to dinner at Scott Base, the New Zealand research station 2 miles (3 km away).  Scott Base is a lot smaller than McMurdo Station and at the time was inhabited by around 45  people.  For this reason, the food is made in much smaller quantities and is more similar to home-made food.

After eating and chatting with the kiwis, I met up with Martin (the diver) and we skied back to McMurdo Station along the sea ice. I didn't bring a camera so don't have any pictures sorry.

Today (the 6th) was a really nice day. The sun was shining, the wind was calm, and the temperature hovering at about +2 °C (36 °F). Conveniently, we were finishing off our sediment sampling for the season this morning.

We sampled up on Arrival Heights, a restricted area that has beautiful views of Mt. Erebus, the sea ice and a lot of features only mildly blighted by the presence of buildings.

Mt. Erebus rearing it's peak behind Arrival Heights Crater

Another panoramic photo of our view

Martin and I went for a dive after lunch at the water intake jetty to get a water sample for another research group and to get some animals for the lab 'touch tank'. It was really light underwater because of the sunny day so we didn't need our flashlights. There was a Weddell seal cruising around for a while when we were underwater, which was neat.

The touch tank. You can see a yellow snail, orange sea spider, a white sea slug, a fish, anemone, scallops and more

Steve observes the animals 

After the dive, people were playing Christmas carols on the stereo and decorating some of the lab halls with festive decorations. Our group decided to join in the fun before heading back to work.


Mary with a snow man decoration


In the evening, Martin and I went for a second dive for the day.  This time a researcher wanted a lot of nemertean worms.  These worms grow up to around a meter long and are slimy and gross.  You can see them in a video made by the BBC that was filmed near here.


The mass of nemertean worms that we collected



There was a lot of cloud cover while we were diving and it was pretty dark.  We took a few pictures underwater and fortunately a few came out.  This is probably my last dive for the season, so although I was a little sad, I am still feeling fortunate to have dived as much as I have.


Martin swimming below the sea ice


Martin swimming toward the dive hole


Martin going through the dive hole to the surface


A happy Martin with a friendly kiwi visitor


We finished our dive around 10:30 p.m. and went to the band room to watch a band practicing for a concert. That was pretty fun but I was tired by then and didn't last long before I grabbed a midnight snack and went to bed.