The Adventures of Dr. Emelia DeForce: A Scientists Dream Vacation

Jan 24, 2013
69°56.9S X 76°17.2W (Most Southern Point)
West of the Antarctic Peninsula
Sunrise  2:50am
Sunset  12:19pm

We’ve all got our groove on. Sampling and processing seems like a breeze despite it’s challenges.  The flow of efficiency has finally set in and it feels good!

Think growling, whoopee pad, and burps happening simultaneously and amplified by a hundred.  Honestly, I can’t help but tell you it is hysterical, mesmerizing, and remarkable all at the same time.  I will never again feel embarrassed about the decibel of my own bodily vibrations!

A few days later, I finally got the tap on the shoulder, one I had been anticipating for some time.  The whalers invited me to help sample humpbacks using a crossbow, I was super stoked!   Don the Mustang Survival gear and go hunting for whales.  Not your everyday activity.  After several hours, we had 4 samples and were covered in whale snot which, as you can imagine, smells rancid from the strictly seafood diet maintained by the ginormous creatures.

The Adventures of Dr. Emelia DeForce: A Scientists Dream Vacation

Think growling, whoopee pad, and burps happening simultaneously and amplified by a hundred.  Honestly, I can’t help but tell you it is hysterical, mesmerizing, and remarkable all at the same time.  I will never again feel embarrassed about the decibel of my own bodily vibrations!

The Adventures of Dr. Emelia DeForce: A Scientists Dream Vacation

A few days later, I finally got the tap on the shoulder, one I had been anticipating for some time.  The whalers invited me to help sample humpbacks using a crossbow, I was super stoked!   Don the Mustang Survival gear and go hunting for whales.  Not your everyday activity.  After several hours, we had 4 samples and were covered in whale snot which, as you can imagine, smells rancid from the strictly seafood diet maintained by the ginormous creatures. Our next stop?  Rothera Station owned and run by the British Antarctic Survey.  We were welcomed like brothers and sisters and treated to a day of genuine merriment albeit the rivalrous annual soccer game.  We lost 0-1.  Crevassing, afternoon tea, and a decadent dinner rounded out the day.  Perfect.

The Adventures of Dr. Emelia DeForce: A Scientists Dream Vacation

Now the next charge was to get to our furthest point South, Charcot Island.  This island is named after the father of the famous French Antarctic expeditionist Jean-Baptiste Charcot.  This proved a tricky maneuver for the Laurence M Gould and the crew navigating her.  The area is more sea ice than not, and with any change in the wind direction, the ice can shift leaving you pinned in.  This happened in 2001 close to Palmer Station.  The team was stuck for a month to wait for the ice to subside.  Our second attempt was a success and the birders could complete their data set by counting the Adelie colony present on the island.  It was a celebratory day, successful landing, hitting the furthest Southern point, and the icing on the cake?  It was my birthday.

From here on, we will travel North as we near the end of our tenancy in these waters.

In a week, we will be back at Palmer Station off loading shipmates (including myself) and taking on new folks for the passage through the Drake and ultimately back home.  I will take the Holland America’s MS Prinsendam cruise liner to Buenos Aires because of space constraints (bad life eh?) and will leave a few days after the Gould.  In as much, I am told that I will partake in the Palmer tradition of “polar plunging” as she leaves the dock to go North.  I am already shaking in my steel-toed XTRA TUF boots quite literally.

The Adventures of Dr. Emelia DeForce: A Scientists Dream Vacation

This concludes my literary stories from The Last Frontier.  Thanks for the tremendous amount of support, I have been honored to share my journey with you.  In the words of Dr. Suess, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened!”

~Cheers,

Emelia

 

Photo Captions in order as they appear:

Adelie Penguin (Cameron Rutt):  Adelie Penguin

Elephant Seals (Zach Swaim):  The loud and vocal elephant seals.

Crevassing at Rothera (Natasja van Gestel):  Returning to British based Rothera Station after crevassing on the glacier.

Avian Island camp (Cameron Rutt):  The Birder’s living quarters on Avian Island.

Below: Avian Island penguins (Cameron Rutt):  The massive numbers of Adelie penguins on Avian Island

The Adventures of Dr. Emelia DeForce: A Scientists Dream Vacation