King Edward Point Diary – January 2004

31 January, 2004

Fantastic fish

Hello, it’s Frin again. Reporting from the exterior of South G. Lots of things have happened in January. I will tell you mostly about how pretty it is here, Burns night, fish surveys (because I love fish), poetry night, an ace trip to see lots of penguins and my crabs.

The place is summery and still stunning. Green: deep, downy sage and sunny as tussock, starry moss and burnet leaves. Butter cups, dandelions, sorrel and burnet bombs: yellow, red prickles and scarlet ripples. Sunsets with flying saucer clouds. Bright stars. Turquoise snow and ice. Millions and zillions of bergs in the bay – the most ever, it’s fantastic. And two mega bergs just outside the bay (see last months web diary for a cool picture of these). A pain for boats and ships but pretty for us.

Now the fish survey, because, remember, I really love fish. So at the start of the month Dorada, one of the friendly patrol ships, came with some lovely biologists including Mark Belchier and Martin Collins from Cambridge. She stole Suzi and Rich away for a month to steam around South Georgia and Shag Rocks trawling for fish. Andy Strider Black bird magnet, pastry chef and all round good guy also left on the survey after staying here for a couple of weeks.

The aim of the survey was to find out how many mackerel icefish and young toothfish are about. Appropriate quotas can then be set for next year’s fishery. Biologists also studied how these species interact with other sea dwellers (perhaps eating each other, maybe kissing). For example looking inside of toothie tummies tells us what they eat (mostly adorable little fish with yellow and orange fins or silver light organs, but some shellfish and the odd bit of dead penguin). Dietary information helps to explain why fish move from place to place and why they might grow faster and reproduce more some years than others. The survey dudes also tried out methods of counting icefish using sound (acoustics) instead of trawls.

More than fish I love crabs. The lovely fishers collected some with eggs. We are keeping them in the aquarium and hope that they will produce larvae soon. I know you must all be excited and will keep you informed.

Jenny organised some ace things this month with her usual brilliant enthusiasm. First a poetry evening in deserted maybe haunted Discovery house. We read poems and fairy tales and sang by tilly lamp. Importantly we also ate many chocolate items and Chris’s extraordinarily tasty cookies. We also began training for a half up-mountain-down-mountain marathon. Some lean, mean machines taking everything in their stride. Others (i.e. me) more a red version of Mr Burns from the Simpsons with a few small droplets of rose flavoured perspiration.

Burns night was fun. Our friends from the Grytviken clean up camp and tug boat Luma came and cooked and organised a delicious haggis and neaps and bits meal and we ate and drank and sang. And played pretend pipes and wore kilts.

My favourite bits of the month were our trips to Rookery Bay over the Barff peninsula. For these we took the boats to Coral Bay and then had a lovely walk over the peninsula to where you can see the big Southern Ocean. I have been dreaming of this for a year and it was super fun. There are gorgeous big-eyed reindeer and huge icebergs and big waves on a big brilliant sea, and best of all, a Macaroni penguin rookery. These birds are well cool.

I especially like their brilliant beaks and their golden tufts. And they were noisy and had chicks and there were thousands. Its penguin heaven and Frin heaven and I am still smiling and think everyone else is too, fantastica! Amongst the penguins were 2 fellow BASers, Phil Trathan and Ash Morton, satellite tagging and counting. They were full of Penguin knowledge, lucky us, a cool surprise.

So that’s a quick round up of fun things this month. We also loved seeing lots of yachts, including ever social and happy and cool Ada II, Golden Fleece, Le Sourire, and the beautiful Shenandoah with a fantastic sax player. Also friends on Luma (who saved our bay and beaches in the winter), Ellie seal dudes from Husvik, the Shackleton (with our little doc Sue and busy Ben, and lovely Keith with coriander to die for) and the always friendly and kind JCR. Lucky us dancing (dancing is cool) and parties and laughs and delicious treats from Ann and laughs from Ken. And new friends, Steve a super amazing taxidermist-craftsman from the Falklands, and Helen a brilliant sculptress who makes beautiful, almost breathing animals from scrap metal. And we are happy because Pat and Sarah came back from their holidays full of cool tales and smiles. Lucky us.

Hey Mum, Dad and Sis! We still love everyone at home lots and miss you too. But we are smiling so I am sure you are happy with us. Thank you for looking after us all even down here. We are very lucky.

A million kisses and love and hugs, Frini (Katherine Ann Ross)

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