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18 November, 2000

FYI answer for 11/17/00

Over fifty people alternate working at the McMurdo Firestation. The have firedrills and practice situations often to be prepared if something should occur. There is also a doctor on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Accidents can happen, even here in Antarctica.

We haven't worked in three days and now we will have to make up for it. We are now also down one member. Yoko had to be flown to Christchurch, where she will have her leg taken care of, and then she will return to Japan. She has a multiple break and will not be able to walk on it for six to eight weeks. The ice and snow is not a place to be if you have to use crutches. Her departure was very sad for the rest of us. She still has some work that we will try to do for her. Katsu is going to be doing his best with our assistance.

We were supposed to have census, our entire area seal count and tag check, four days ago. The weather today wasn't great but it was better. I was put into full-time census duty for my first time. I worked all day traveling through a third of the eighty-five square miles of our study area, on my snowmobile. Shawn and I covered the area we call the 'South'. Before we began, Mike explained where we would be working since I had never been to these areas. With the three previous days of snow and high winds and today's clouds, it turned out to be a very slow and difficult day.

The seals are always found near cracks. These cracks must be big enough for the seals to get into and out of. I found many of those cracks and lots of little ones from just the shifting ice. I was lucky enough, though, that I only ended up with a boot in a wet crack once. I did find two larger cracks that I went waist deep into, but I was able to crawl out of them quickly. I had one rather scary moment when an upst mother seal didn't want me nearby, so she came towards me and I went down in the deep snow. I waved her off with my ice ax but to my left came mother number two. It was them or me. My survival instincts had me scream, kick, and holler enough that they both were probably spooked by my antics, and they turned away enough for me to stand and get out of the deeper snow.

My team members will leave for a long day out of the area tomorrow. Katsu and I will be able to stay in McMurdo tonight and tomorrow. It will be very good to shower and do laundry. There will also be time to check on the S-157 group, who is still at McMurdo, two weeks after they were to fly to their camp. Many people are left stranded when the weather is bad around here. There is very unseasonable weather occurring this season. More than fifty missions have been cancelled and put behind projects. I consider myself very lucky to be working. There are lots of things to do here, but it is still not a city with unlimited options for free time and time off.


There are about _________ people who live at McMurdo during the summer season. This community consumes about ____________ pounds of food per week. In the winter season, there are only about 240 _____________ and they consume about ___________ pounds per week.

I am having lunch during 'Census Day' 3.

This is an adult, male Weddell seal.

This pup is now over a month old and close to a hundred pounds.

Seal pups are often left alone when their mothers go into the water to feed.

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