Last 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.

New Zealand helicopter lands by Blood Falls with the British consulate general.

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.


The 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!