Let’s see – a quick check of the weather and I find it will be MINUS 8 (-8 F) with a “brisk northerly wind” today! I will be heading ‘up the hill’ to work in a few minutes to begin our SHIFT schedules! I will now be working 5:30 AM – 5:30 PM (or here in McM town… 0530-1730). My days off will be Monday and Friday.
Last night I had dinner with “Liz” from Bristol, UK. She is a bio-geo-chemistry scientist down here for her 3rd year to study the effect of ice on tiny microorganisms. She is checking the little ‘critters’ that are trapped in the ice at the DRY VALLEYS. She said the name of these little things, but it was even longer than the above words and I had no idea where to begin spelling it! It did remind me of the scientist the other day who was explaining how ice forms on the bottom of the ocean. Especially around the shallow areas of McMurdo (75 feet depth) It first freezes onto anything that is on the bottom, and once that occurs and becomes lighter – it will eventually break free and float up. It then CLEARS the bottom of any living things. (Which are now trapped IN the ice.) Starfish, sponges, and other critters that can live in greater depths will not get trapped so you will find abundant life growing.
I found it interesting that at about 6 feet under the ice it is totally dark. The BBC, with their slow motion cameras should get some interesting photos of what goes on in the dark.
Speaking of SEALS. Do they get old?
The Weddell seals around here have some IMPRESSIVE teeth which are used to chew through the ice for breathing holes. When the teeth no longer work. They die. They can either drown – if trapped under water; or starve – if the hole freezes shut while they are snoozing on the sea ice.
Enough rambling…. time to head up the hill!