Rothera Diary — January 2013

28 January, 2013

After a long, but good journey, from The Netherlands our group arrived January 10th safe and sound at Rothera. The first sight was of stranded icebergs in North Cove blindingly white in the sunlight; gorgeous! The first few days on base were packed with inductions and familiarizations to work and base life. The field induction with the camping was amazing. Due to the conditions of the traverse we weren’t able to camp at Vals, but we got the opportunity to camp on the Point with amazing views over the Laubeuf fjord.

Sunday afternoon, after the power was restored, the boatmen organized a trip for those interested in Ryder bay. After putting on the boating suits and the life-jackets we climbed into the boats. It was a gorgeous ride to Lagoon Island with its little, but very sufficient refuge hut. The elephant seals enjoyed their Sunday afternoon by basking in the sun and flipping up the sand and little pebbles. We wandered around for a while making many many pictures. On our way back we passed shackrock and a field of icebergs. Ryder bay with the 2500m-high mountains in the west is so much larger than I had imagined when staring at it standing at the wharf.

At the end of my first week, a US research vessel, Gould, arrived at Rothera on Saturday morning. Together with twenty others a men-swap of people with the Gould took place by using a man-basket. Fortunately, I got the opportunity to spend a day on this vessel. We were welcomed with a breakfast after which it was time to start with the calibration of the CTD (Conductivity, Temperature, Depth) device of Rothera. The Rothera CTD was mounted on the CTD of the Gould and together it was lowered to 500 m to measure every meter conductivity, temperature and depth of the water. In total three casts were taken. Once back at Rothera it was time for the yearly football/soccer game; Rothera-Gould. It was breathtaking, but in the end Rothera won with 1–0. During the game the players got enforcement by two penguins, and the skuas were just hanging in the air wherever the ball (and players) went…

In the evening we had a swinging Gould-night in the genny-shed.

In the beginning of the month a pod of killer whales (Orca) visited the bay and came very close to the wharf. Johan (our whale whisperer) took some amazing pictures. But it were not only the Orca, the Humpbacks also took a look at Biscoe wharf, giving us many ooohs and aahs. The first fur seals were seen and the cute Adelies still make me smile when wobbling around on base and interfering with football games. A few leopard seals were spotted and the Weddells lay relaxed sleeping on the beach.

Saturday the 26th the Dutch VIP party arrived after two days of delay. The weather didn’t permit them to come over earlier. Many people on base help hard to get our labs up and running (many, many thanks!!) and when the VIPs arrived the labs could proudly be presented.

On Sunday the Dirck Gerritsz laboratory was officially opened. The foreseen vision of David W with his awesome cartoon about whales passing by during the opening made a hilarious coincidence. Five minutes before the opening the radio announced whales passing and indeed the whole party moved to the wharf…

Just after seven the labs were declared open and all moved to New Bransfield for a toast and a nice evening dinner.

January brought us many gorgeous sunsets. So a sunset can’t be missed in this diary.

Desiree den Os

Dutch Scientist