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30 January, 2001

It is rewarding for me to know that several of you are reading my journal. Six from my family alone. It is also nice to get the feedback about what I have written. I have always tried to take good advice whenever I can get it. This is due to the fact that most of what I have learned has been through mistakes, and I have learned a lot. One comment was: "You have referenced your father and his paying for college a few times. As a father paying for college presently, I would advise that you refrain from further reference because your dad may decide he wants his money back." A second comment was: "if dark colors absorb more heat why is it always colder in the dark"? And a final comment was: "Are the penguins starting to look good ? I hope you haven't bought one a beer yet".

I was thinking about all of this good advice while Katie, Jeb and I are waiting for the helo to take us back to McMurdo. It has been a typical day with the helo schedule, an hour late to leave and an hour and a half late to pick us up. We spent today at F6 setting up a 48 hr resin experiment and we also took some digital photos of different soil surfaces for an imaging analysis project.

On the return helo flight since it was late, and our pilot was in a good mood, we were able to take the long way home, a trip to the ice edge. The ice edge is just like what it sounds like, the place where the McMurdo Sound ice is breaking up into the Ross Sea. It is also here that lots of animals gather: adelie (Pygoscelis adeliae) and emperor Aptendodytes forsteri) penguins, leopard ( Hydrurga leptonyx) and weddell (Leptonychotes weddellii) seals, minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), and killer whales (Orcinus orca).

This is my second trip to the ice edge and I am just as excited as the first time, wide eyed at the window scanning for whales. I do not know how anyone could get tired of such natural wonders. Orca whales can be seen all along the ice edge, cruising and looking for a meal. In several locations single whales could be seen spy hopping. Spy hopping is were the whales move vertically out of the water, raising their upper body out almost to their pectoral fins. The Orcaís do this when they are looking for an adelie snack. Just like you or I when we are looking for our favorite snacks at the local 7-11. The wild life is not the only attraction, the pieces of ice and bergy bits (small ice bergs) appear like pieces of a three-dimensional puzzle scattered on the ocean surface. Check out the ice edge video at the Apple ali site.

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