21 October, 1998
Today was an incredible day. We were taken out to Cape Bird (I think I spelled it Byrd yesterday) by helicopter. I thought it was going to turn out to be a bad day because here at McMurdo it was overcast and cold. It was bad enough that once again there were no flights from New Zealand. It is beginning to cause logistical problems here. About 15 minutes into our 30 minute flight we left the clouds behind us and hit sunshine.
Upon arriving at Cape Bird we set out fish traps. That was after all the purpose of our flight to collect fish for our experiments. We truly are in need of fish. After we set out our traps we took off exploring Cape Bird.
Cape Bird is aptly named because there are Adelie penguin rookeries there. A rookery is a nesting area for penguins. It is also a protected area. This means that you can look but not disturb the penguins. They were everywhere and they were hilarious to watch.
Adelie penguins reach about 28 inches in height. Their head and back are black and the front is white. What makes them look so interesting is that they have a small white ring around their black eyes that makes them look like toys. Penguins by the way are found only in the Southern Hemisphere just as Polar Bears are found only in the Northern Hemisphere.
The penguins would waddle along with some flapping their flippers (they do not fly0. When they came to a patch of snow or ice they got down on their stomachs and slid. The only bad about the penguins is the smell. Their feces is quite odorous. Actually it stinks worse than a chicken coop. They sure were cute to watch. I have a Teddy Bear I brought here for a group of elementary school students. They call it Geo-bear. It has been all around the world and had its picture taken. I set it on the ground and left it there after a while a group of penguins got curious and came over to it. They slapped it and knocked it over than walked away. They did not seem to appreciate the teddy bear.
Cape Bird is almost ice free. There was open water just beyond the small stretch of ice along the beach. We could climb out over the small ice pressure ridge and get right to the edge and look down into the water. This is where we threw out our fish trap. It was beautiful to look down into the water. You could see the bottom. I estimate it was about 30 feet deep where we were standing.
I really got tired out there today. It is amazing how quickly the cold saps your strength. You really cannot stop and stand around because it is just too cold. The constant activity begins to wear you down after a while. I got back on the helicopter 6 hours later and I was worn out.
While we were at Cape Bird we also saw a Weddell Seal and its pup. When it saw us it raised its head and bellowed out a warning. There was no argument from us. We left it alone.
Once we got back to McMurdo we were right back in the lab. We still had a lot of work to do. It really never ends. It probably will not end until I am loaded on the plane headed for home. Anyway that was the day today. It was definitely one of the best days here yet. The penguins really made the day for me. Well that ends another day. Bye for now.
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