3 December, 2000
FYI answer for 12/02/00
Scientists have documented increased ultraviolet radiation (UVR) in Antarctica due to depletion in the ozone layer. Ultraviolet radiation exposure increases with the time of day (greatest between 10am and 3pm), season (greater in the summer),altitude, and weather (increased by wind). Snow and ice reflects 85% of UVR.
There is something to be said about darkness. For the first time in my journey here I actually woke up feeling like I wanted darkness. It wasn't the need for sleep, it was more like the fact that time now seems to be standing still. I'm not in any hurry for the experience to end. In the work we do, we record time often. I have to use my watch to tell when its time for meals and bed. My body doesn't seem to let me know. I think it is out of sync too. I only know what the date is because I am keeping track with these journal entries, but the days of the week seem to be lost, and so I find myself asking every two or three days.
This Sunday was a work day around here. The past two weekends we've been in McMurdo and havw not had to work. Turks Head has been our focus for the past four days because of the deep dive data that has been recorded by the most recent seals used with instruments. We also have the depths measured now along the major crack in the area so we know there is a better chance of the seals diving deep. There are over 40 adult seals usually found along this crack when the conditions are normal. Most seals tend to head for the water and stay there during snow and very windy weather. However, mothers with newborn pups stay on the surface.
We had four animals still left to detach instruments from. Yesterday we needed to get two but never found them. Today we found one of those two and one of two we wanted today. We had an easy time of removing the frst one. The female tht rolled on us the other day was the other female. She was just as difficult today detaching. After Katsu had bagged her, I took the ropes and held her. She circled and twisted and shook her head. The worst place to be is near seals heads. I was in a battle for position with her while Katsu was removing the instruments when she flipped backwards and around and she was snapping from inside the bag. Her powerful jaws nearly found my grasp on one of the ropes. Luckily for me, she was biting from inside a canvas bag and I had on very thick leather gloves. The encounter just gave me a bruise on my hand. I did win this battle and we removed the instruments without any further injuries.
In our last effort to find the two remaining females, we returned to Turks Head later in the day. We went back to the areas where the females pups were. I was on the farthest side from Katsu and Gifford and we were working our way to the middle. The winds had blown a lot of loose snow over the ice crack today and over some of the seals holes along the crack. I found one of those holes. The crack is about two to three feet wide in most areas. However the seals rake out larger holes to get in and out of. These are usaully a foot or two then wider. I had used my five foot bamboo pole to check the first edge and stretched it across to mark the other side. I drew my jump mark and jumped. I was a foot too short. I went through the snow layer and quickly realized the water level at my waist at the same time I had the ledge higher than my armpits. My head was all Gifford said he saw as they came running to help. I still had the pole holding me from going down more and then started to use my feet to find the ledge behind me. All of this happened in a matter of 5 to 10 seconds and then Katsu was there as I was pressing myself up. He pulled me out, but my boots had filled with water, very cold water and I was soaked to my waist. Lucky for me we were near finishing, so I just waited to take the boots and socks off. Tha is part of why we carry or ECW bags though. I do carry three pairs of extra socks. I just decided I could handle the cold and water a little longer until we got back to camp. We did laugh about the whole thing though. I had been here almost a month and just now had my first big ice hole, fall in, drenching.
There are guidelines for personal conduct when out in the field in Antarctica:
Do not _________ wildlife
Do not litter
Do not introduce plants or animals into the Antarctic
Do not __________ eggs, fossils, or plants without a permit
Do not enter any Specially Protected Area
Avoid interference with ____________ work
Do not __________ Antarctic historic monuments
Be environmentally _______________
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