We woke up to a clearer sky and no snow, visibility was definitely better and we can see the mountains on the continent. After packing up all our outdoor gear, we headed to the Science Support Center to leave for our first day on the ice. It’s still part of the training, but the atmosphere among us was of excitement! We hopped on the vehicle that would take us to the ice, a Hägglund, and we went to the first hole in the ice that we will be sampling from. We got instructed on how to look for signs of cracks in the ice and how to check for them.
Next stop would be the second hole which is further on the sea ice, it requires a longer drive. When we arrived there we got to see how the sampling holes are drilled and saw the previous hole that was drilled but got overtaken by seals. It turns out, they love the chance to come out of the water through the sampling holes! We are not allowed to sample if they are using the holes.
Far in the distance, where we could only see a spot on the ice, there was a lonely emperor penguin. It seems that it’s molting its feathers and will be there for a while. It was far, but at least we got to see a penguin! There was a chance that we would not see even one.
We were getting started on how to drill holes in the ice to check for ice thickness for safely crossing with vehicles when Leigh, one of the other participants, spotted a group of penguins coming roughly in our direction. It was an amazing experience, we all started taking innumerous photos while 12 Adelie penguins walked in our direction. One of them got very close to me, I could not believe it. They look very clumsy, but can walk very fast. It was a very lucky moment and very fascinating! After checking us out, the Adelies went in the direction of the lonely emperor and then started walking towards the continent.
I guess we were very lucky!
I am very tired now, but there is a very interesting lecture tonight.
I will try to have an early night of sleep because tomorrow we will get some real sampling done!