25 October, 1998
In one respect this has been a long day but in another it has gone by quickly. It is long in that we packed a lot into this day. It has been short in that we were so active today that the day went by swiftly. Officially today was fish gathering day and we did just that. We brought back the most fish we have ever caught at one time and they all survived the trip back. Dr. Petzel invited some other people that did not have to work today to go with us on this trip. We took a "sprite" and 4 snowmobiles to Cape Evans and then to Cape Royds. Both of these places I have talked about before.
In our fishing hut at Cape Evans we had 6 people dangling lines into the water through our 1 meter hole. Together we all caught about 50 fish. We put the fish in one of the traps that was tied off this time so that none could escape. We left the fish in the trap while we took off for Cape Royds. Cape Royds is where one of the penguin rookeries is located. The number of penguins had doubled since we were there last weekend. I am told that in another month it will be packed with so many penguins you won't be able to number. It was funny to watch them. They are building nest on the ground and will lay their eggs there next month. The funny thing was that the penguins were stealing rocks from one another. One penguin would place a rock down and turn to go get another rock and the next penguin would take the one the first penguin had positioned.
On the way to Cape Royds we passed by a group of seals again. You could see blood stains in one area where a mother seal had given birth. We did not see the calf though. The seals again seemed to pose for us as we took more pictures. They did not seemed bothered by our presence. We tried not to disturb them other than to take pictures.
On the way back from Cape Evans we stopped at Island where a group of scientists were studying a group of seals. There we saw female seals with their calves. They had been born in the last day. They were so cute and the mother seals do not seem to mind our presence. We also saw a male seal that was moving away from the others. He was bleeding pretty badly. The scientists studying the seals explained that he had lost in a battle for superiority and the right to mate with the female seals. He would survive to fight another day. He was so pitiful looking but we could do nothing for him.
We were running late when we left the seal area which is not a good thing in Antarctica. When you go out in the field you always radio in that you are departing, where you are going, and give an estimated time of return. If no one hears from you by the time of return a search party will be sent out to find you. We got on our snowmobiles and raced back to McMurdo with no time to spare.
Today was the last day one of our research team members would be here (if the plane lands) so it was decided by the groupd that everyone would climb up the 1000 ft mountain behind McMurdo called Observation Hill. I was not in on the decision and would have voted no because I was too tired but I went anyway. It was cold (-10F) and windy which made it colder but we made it to the top. I was dead when I got there but I made it. We all had ice hanging from our eyebrows and face coverings. The only thing not covered was our eyes so the moisture in our breath from to our face masks and eyebrows. We were a sight. I have been in Antarctica too long. Now I am doing things like climbing mountains at 9 o'clock at night, in freezing weather and windds to boot. I must be going nuts. I would never do that at home. The little boy in me is coming out again. It was a truly fun day. Tomorrow begins my last full week in Antarctica so there will not be many more adventures. I have enough to last me until the next adventure. Somehow, I do not think I will ever be able to top Antarctica. Well that ends another day. This is Glenn (Skip) Zwanzig signing off for the night from the frozen wilderness of Antarctica. (Sorry about the light humor).
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