week was a special one in the valleys. We celebrated the 100-year anniversary
of the discovery of the Dry Valleys!
It happened, coincidentally, that the
British consulate general was scheduled to stop by Blood Falls on the
west lobe of Lake Bonney on the anniversary date. It also just so happened
that the west lobe of Lake Bonney was the place that the early explorers
first descended into the Dry Valleys. And by design our team and some
other people working on the long-term ecological research (LTER) project
had planned to be in the Lake Bonney basin for the anniversary.
Zealand helicopter lands by Blood Falls with the British consulate
A joint New Zealand,
British, and U.S. group celebrates the 100-year anniversary of
the discovery of the Dry Valleys.
So around noon, our LTER group gathered
by Blood Falls to await the arrival of the consulate general and the
New Zealand group that was showing her around. After exchanging greetings
and giving a brief round of introductions, we all paused waiting expectantly
for a speech or some brief words at least. We thought that the New Zealand
group had prepared something to say. They thought that we had prepared
something. It turned out that no one had prepared anything!
We decided to read aloud the original
account of the discovery of the "curious valley" that Robert
Scott had written about in his book, the Voyage of the Discovery (Discovery
was the name of his ship). In the end, hearing about the valleys in
the words of one of the first people to see them and describe them so
vividly seemed incredibly appropriate, and it was really cool to be
in the place Scott was describing in his account. Historian Dr. Ed Larson
was also with us and stepped up to the plate to provide some background
as to the history of the early expeditions.
next day Justin and I went back to McMurdo Station to wash around 2500
bottles (no that's not a typo) for some experiments we'll be doing.
We were in the lab pretty much the whole time we were in McMurdo. The
most exciting thing that happened was that, while we were washing bottles,
the call went out in the lab - there's a seal on the ice runway!
A group of us ran up to the library on
the uppermost floor of Crary Lab. The library has a big picture window.
We couldn't make out the seal at all, but what we could see was an LC-130
going back and forth because it
couldn't land until the seal had moved. And for us at least, (probably
not for the people in the plane) that was pretty funny. We later spoke
with the group that moved the seal. They said it was a 200-pound pup
and that the pup was none too pleased about being hoisted onto the back
of a truck. Apparently they also had to move another pup that wasn't
actually on the runway but was close by. They then called the ice tower
(the air traffic control tower) to report that the seals had finally
been cleared. The ice tower proceeded to ask them about a renegade penguin
that was in the vicinity!