19 November, 1999
The drilling for the third season of the Cape Roberts Project is completed. As of November 19th at 10:00AM NZT the drilling stopped at a depth 939.42. meters. This is now the record for drilling into rock in Antarctica. As I told you in a previous journal, drilling has brought up rock which was unexpected by the scientists. They are now in the process of considering what steps to follow next. Since this is a new and surprising find, they want to proceed cautiously in order to get as much new information out of the core samples as possible. The geologists are working to interpret the meaning of the rocks that have been brought up. There is much discussion about various interpretations. I will attempt to give you a clearer picture as to what they have found in a later journal.
I finally got to see penguins! And I didn't see one penguin or even hundreds. I saw thousands of penguins! I visited the Adelie penguin rookery at Cape Royds on Ross Island. This is the southern-most penguin rookery in the world. Adelie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) are about 2-3 feet tall and weigh about 11 pounds. They have the classic black and white penguin coloration. Their heads, beaks, necks, backs, eyes and tails are all black with white chests, abdomens, and legs. They have a very distinctive white circle around their eye. The Adelie penguin is named for Adele, the wife of Jules-Sebastian Dumont d'Urville, an early French Antarctic explorer. At Cape Royds, the penguins seem to be everywhere. You can hear their squabbling sounds as you approach the rookery. You cannot get real close to the penguins because the rookery is protected and signs are posted to prevent people form disturbing them. The penguins were nesting when I saw them and many of the nests had eggs. The nests are composed of small pebbles arranged in a circle on top of bare rock. The Adelies are very amusing to watch. They have a hilarious habit of walking over to the nest of another Adelie and stealing small pebbles. They then scurry away and deposit the pebble in their nest. This "thievery" inevitably starts a big squabble between the Adelies that usually results in the victim going and stealing a pebble from another nest. This goes on all day. I saw penguins waddle about and slide on their bellies in the snow. They seemed oblivious to our presence as long as we didn't get too close. I could have watched them for hours. Oh, and here is something I found out about Adelie penguins I didn't know; They stink! I got down wind of the rookery and, whew, what an odor. I guess if we ate what they eat, we wouldn't smell too good either. Adelie penguins eat plankton, squid and small fish so they need to get to the sea to feed. The ice will eventually melt around Cape Royds, but now the open water is about 10 miles away. During my visit, I watched several groups of Adelies heading out across the ice, waddling along in lines of 3 to 5. They looked like solders in a line. Several other groups were returning as well. It was a real high point of my trip so far to see these wonderful animals in their natural setting. If you want to find out more about Adelie penguins and other types of Antarctic penguins, check out this website: http://www.antarctic.com.au/encyclopaedia/bio/Penguins.html.
Seeing that I finally saw an Antarctic penguin, it is time to name my little penguin friend that has accompanied me all the way from Appleton to Antarctica and every where in between. Those of you who were at schools I visited before I left will remember my little stuffed penguin. He/she still doesn't have a name and it is time to give him/her one. I want you to think of a good name. If you are reading this in your classroom, perhaps your class can discuss names and come up with some good ones. When you think you have a name for "the unnamed penguin", e-mail it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In about a week, I will discuss the names with a panel of penguin experts (Should be easy to find some around here.), and we will come up with a list of finalists. Then we will all vote on the best name. He/she has to have a name before I leave the ice. Come up with some good, creative names!
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