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Antarctic conservation blog archive

Life on the High Seas

Anna, Thursday 29 January 2009

I never believed the stories about people working in Antarctica in just a t-shirt- bah! People just love to exaggerate. But here we are, sweating away in t shirts. The weather has been fine, fine, fine, with temperatures up to +5°C - a veritable sauna after the -40°C days we had in September.

And along with the sunny tropical heat comes the change in tide. The sea ice has been closed for a month now, and after being helicoptered out here to Captain Scott’s base at Cape Evans, we found that the sea ice was all still in place. It seemed like it was still solid. But we all know appearances can be deceptive.

Although the sea ice is still there, it is slowly thawing out and disintegrating from within. It looks so solid, but dark patches have been appearing out there. And finally, it is starting to happen. We had a slightly brawny breeze yesterday, and poof!! Those dark patches have suddenly become dark sea, and the ice is starting to blow out!

Dark patches of water hinting at the sea to come © Antarctic Heritage Trust

Dark patches of water hinting at the sea to come © Antarctic Heritage Trust

It is vaguely surreal to see the ocean after seeing nothing but snow and ice for so long. Even eerier is watching the pancake ice roving lazily back and forth against the shore with the tide. It is hard to believe that the waves travel for so many miles under the sea ice to lap against the Cape Evans shore.

Pancake ice jostling at the shore © Antarctic Heritage Trust

Pancake ice jostling at the shore © Antarctic Heritage Trust

Now we are just waiting for the liberated bergs to begin their drift, and the orca and leopard seals to start their hunting in the open ocean.

Icebergs © Antarctic Heritage Trust

Icebergs © Antarctic Heritage Trust

3 Responses to “Life on the High Seas”

  1. Molly says:

    Is the flag me and Dan put on top of the closest ice berg still there? Great pics :)

  2. Fiona says:

    Hi Molly.

    The team has literally just returned to Scott Base (yesterday) having spent just over a month out in the field at Captain Scott’s base at Cape Evans.

    They have made great progress in regards to the planned conservation program to save the site and are now enjoying hot water, showers and proper beds after weeks of camping.

    As for your question about the iceberg we speak pretty regularly with the team and there’s been no mention of your flag – sorry!

  3. Amrita says:

    Wow! Amazing pictures. The picture of pancake ice is really wonderful.