Sunday, January 7, 2007

The Oden, the Polar Sea and the Adélies!

Our team was finally in McMurdo! Work was already in progress. They had been busy throughout their journey and even on their flight down from Christchurch! Things would soon be getting busy for me as we prepare to leave for our field camp. But, after a big lunch at the Galley, I couldn’t go back to my desk. I needed a walk. Being familiar with my routine by now, you wouldn’t be surprised that I walked to Hut Point again. It seemed like the perfect stroll after a meal.

The Oden was working away at the ice right off McMurdo. It had carved a channel all the way to the ice-peer between McMurdo and Hut Point and would be docking there later in the day. I got a good view of the 107 meter long icebreaker that had steadily worked its way to McMurdo through the sea-ice for the past few weeks. It was followed and then joined by the U.S. Coast Guard Polar Sea. It continues to work on widening the channel cut by the Oden making it possible for larger supply ships to arrive at McMurdo later this month.

The Swedish Icebreaker Oden and the U.S. Coast Guard Polar Sea.

As my lucky stars continued to shine past the Antarctic Sun, I once again noticed a large group of Adélie penguins on the ice a little south of Hut Point that was making its way straight towards McMurdo. There were probably about 50 penguins in the group and there were more groups out on the ice big and small, all making their way to Hut Point! Soon it was swarming with penguins. It seemed like the birds were holding a convention! Some of the birds came right up along the shallower slopes of the land and were completely unafraid of the human crowd that was gathering to photograph them. Both groups of bipeds seemed to be curious of each other, but of course only one kind had cameras!

Adélies are the most common and smallest of Antarctic Penguins and were named so in 1830 by French explorer Dumont d’Urville after his wife Adélie. It is also after d’Urville that the French base on the Adélie Coast takes its name. Adélie penguins stand a little over 2 feet tall and feed mainly on krill and fish. There are over 2 million pairs of Adélies all across the Antarctic coast and they gather in huge colonies nesting in November building a nest of rocks and pebbles.

Selections from the Adélie album!

Our team is scheduled to leave for field camp to the Dry Valleys on Thursday, so this will in all probability be my last post until I return from field to add pictures from that trip.

Till then, enjoy the pictures and reading rest of the blog!

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