Monday, November 19, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

Well, today was my last day in Antarctica. It was a very bittersweet feeling to be leaving this incredible and magical place. There is so much history and mystery here. I really do love it. I know that I can't really say with full conviction that I will never be back. I would love to come back again, and maybe someday I can. But for now, the lyrics from the song, "I and Love and You" by The Avett Brothers just keep repeating in my head. It is making me feel very emotional. All I have to do is change the word Brooklyn to Portland and this song is just perfect. It really is making me choke up. I am listening to it right now as I write this last blog post and nothing else can really describe how I feel. However, the words, "I and Love and You" are not hard for me to say at all.

Load the car and write the note 
Grab your bag and grab your coat 
Tell the ones that need to know, 
We are headed north  

One foot in and one foot back, 
But it don't pay, to live like that. 
So i cut the ties and i jumped the tracks, 
For never to return. 

Ah Portland Portland take me in. 
Are you aware the shape I'm in? 
My hands they shake my head it spins 
Ah Portland Portland take me in.

I can't wait to get home. This has been such an incredible season, but it is now over. And there is nothing I want more than to be home. 

However, I won't end my final blog post like that. I will end it just how I have ended all of my other blog posts, with some great pictures from a great day and a great season. 

I love this shot. The joke is pretty subtle, but I still love it. Remember, scientists are refereed to as "Beakers" down here. This is the only street sign that I have seen in McMurdo. Of course, it says "Beaker St" and is right next to the Crary lab.

Soon, it was time to transport to the C-17. Here are Kim and I just before we loaded up on the Delta. I wanted just one last view of the Royal Society mountain range too.

Next, we loaded up. We were packed up like sardines in the huge Delta. Good thing it was a short drive out to the sea ice runway.

And here is that incredible plane: the C-17. It was our ticket home. Once we got on, I could really say that were were headed North. And that felt great!

Here are some fun shots from the flight, just to give you an idea of how big it is on the inside of the C-17. People (including me) were sprawled out on the floor of the C-17 and sleeping. It was awesome!

Once we landed, we got our bags and returned all of our ECW. After that, we were done with our Antarctic experience. 

However, that is not how I will choose to remember my Antarctic experience. Instead, I will remember the view that I had on my commute everyday. Of the worlds Southern most volcano, on perfect day. That is all that I have. I feel so honored and lucky to have been able be a part of this experience. It really has been incredible. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Well, today was my last full day in McMurdo. I leave on Monday, November 19th. Today was my last "McMurdo brunch." They always have something special at brunch. Today, there were a couple of things that were new for me. First, there was the chocolate fountain with strawberries. Why would we not have that in Antarctica?!?!?!

But there was more. There were custard filled doughnuts that had Fruty Pebbles on top of them. My friend, Clint, wanted to try one wrapped in bacon. Here he is with his invention. 

And of course, I needed to have a picture of me with my trophy at brunch one time, so here it is. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Today we spent most of the day returning our field gear. Here are some pictures of the Scott tents. These tents are almost identical to the ones that Robert F. Scott and his party used when they were making their trip to the South Pole in 1912. I think it is pretty impressive that we are still using the same kinds of tents they used 100 years ago!

After returning all of our gear, I went to say goodbye to my friend, Brad. I decided to send him off with a smile so I wore the Pooh costume. He was pretty happy :) It was a great day.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Well, today was a pretty fun day. The first thing that I got to do was to chat with a 5th grade classroom from Portland. I told them about my adventures and research down here and they had some amazing questions about my time down here as well. Here are a couple of pictures from our chat.

The rest of the day just involved returning lab supplies. But I was able to show some friends the Antarctic Toothfish again. Here are some more pictures of the Toothfish with some people in the shot so that you can have some perspective. I hope you enjoy!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Well, today was our last day out in the field. It was bittersweet for me because I don't think that I will ever be able to come back down here. Of course, I also said that last year and look at me now. So, who knows what the future holds for me with regards to Antarctica, but for now, I have to believe that this will be the last time I am down here. We took some people from town out as well as some photographers. Brad went with them to drill a hole so that we could return fish and Marissa and I followed about an hour later. We were on two snowmobiles and we returned about 2-300 fish!

Here are some of the people we took out with us fishing in our fish hut at the Cape Evans Wall.

Kevin looking pumped!

Murphy still can't believe that we use a Barbie pole!

Grace is concentrating hard!

Then it was time to ride back home. Marissa and I needed to take just a few more pictures before we leave this incredible place.

Mt. Erebus and the Royal Society mountain range will always have a special place in my heart. Even though it was a bittersweet day, it was still a great day.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Well, today was a weather day so we were inside all day. I don't have any picture from today, but I do have some more great pictures and a video of the beautiful, incredible and rare Antarctic Toothfish in the Crary lab. I won't get on a soap box and tell you all about the commercial fishery that is regulated by CCAMLR again. If you need a refresher, please feel free to re-read my post from the other day. Today, I will just post a video and some pictures for you to enjoy. In these, there are some "borks" in the tank as well. I hope that helps to give you an idea of how big this fish is!

And here is a short video of the Toothfish swimming!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Well, I spent most of today working on my thesis. And I submitted it to Brad! It felt so so amazing to have that draft done! I also helped out my friend in picking up some equipment from his dive hut. We took snowmobiles out to get his stuff. It was a beautiful day with no wind, super sunny and the temp was +10 F! Here we are at his dive site with our snowmobiles. It was a beautiful day out!

And then, the coolest thing of the entire season happened! One of the science groups down here is fishing for the Antarctic Toothfish, Dissostichus mawsoni, and they caught one!!! The Toothfish is also know as Chilean Sea Bass on menus and in grocery stores around the world. Please, if you ever sea that on a menu or at the store, NEVER ORDER IT. These fish are incredible and are a huge part of the ecosystem in the Ross Sea. As adults they grow larger than 6 feet in length and can be over 200 pounds. In the past, the science teams fishing for them were able to catch up to 500 fish in a season. All are tagged and returned to the ocean. In the mid 1990's, commercial fishing boats started coming to the Ross Sea to fish for the Antarctic Toothfish. They have been taking millions of tons of fish out of the sea every year and it has destroyed the Toothfish population. Last year, the science group working on the Toothfish only caught one fish. ONE! And it wasn't even an adult, it was a small juvenile. In about 15 years, commercial fishing in the Ross Sea has all but eliminated the Antarctic Toothfish from these waters. Now, I know that people probably wondering if the fishery is regulated, and it is. However, it is not regulated using scientific facts. CCAMLR is the company that regulates the the fishery and they decided early on that they would take 3000 tons of fish every year. However, no one knows how many fish are here, when they spawn, how often they reproduce etc. We know that it takes them about two years to mature to an adult, but we don't know when they start reproducing or even if they reproduce every year. Hundreds of the most world renowned Antarctic scientists have tried to get CCAMLR to stop fishing for the Toothfish until we can gain more knowledge, but they have refused. They plan to reduce the population of the Toothfish in the Ross Sea by 50% in the next few years, yet they have no idea what the actual population number is. Lots of research has been done on these fish and we do know that some of these fish can get as old as 40 years old and these are some of the fish they are taking out of the ocean. I know that some people might say that we should be fishing there because we can make money there. However, the Toothfish is also prey to the Weddell seals and to a specific type of Orca (killer whale). The Weddell seals only live here and these Orcas come here in the Antarctic summer to feed on Toothfish as well. If the Toothfish disappears, we may very well lose the Weddell seals and the Orcas as well. I know that was a very long piece and that I normally try to keep it to just a paragraph or two, but people need to know what is going on down here. Here are some pictures of this amazing fish. I think that it looks prehistoric...and incredible!