Gib Finney’s sequel to THE POWER OF UN
The Opposite of a Storm
22 June 2008, Finney @ 11:57 pm

[This post written 6/22/08; position: lat -57’44”, long -42’57”; temp -2C; wind chill -19C]

A lot has happened today. I could begin by saying that I’m pretty ticked off at Strike, or Old Gib. Or myself. I’m not sure which. I called the meeting of the Three Musketeers, and then Strike refused to say anything. He wants me to help him, but then he makes me look like an idiot in front of my friends. Seriously. They are beginning to think I’m off my rocker, and I don’t blame them. I can tell you this: Old Gib is nothing like the scientists on the ship. I would rather be like them than like him. They are careful and considerate. Maybe Old Gib is changing history in a way he didn’t intend to, by making me want to change who I turn out to be!

But that’s enough about Strike. Right now, I don’t want to talk about him, or even think about him. I want to talk about all the cool stuff that happened today. First, when we woke up, the storm was totally gone. The ocean was smooth, the sun was out, and it was so warm out that the ice on the decks was drippy and slushy. Last night after dark, we found a small iceberg where the engineers launched a drone. The drone is a stripped down version of a special piece of equipment called a Lagrangian Sediment Trap (LST for short). The drone test came out well, so today they launched the real LST. You can see a picture of it on the left at the bottom. The LST sinks down to a certain depth and waits there for the iceberg to pass above it. Stuff falling down through the water underneath the iceberg goes into those big funnels you can see and ends up in specimen cups at the bottoms of the funnels. When the LST is done, it comes back up to the surface and signals that it’s ready to be picked up. It has a red flag with reflecting tape so we can see it in the water and snag it. It’s pretty cool. I can’t wait to see what they find when they open the cups.

As you can also tell from the picture, we saw chinstrap penguins again, and this time I had my camera ready. They seem to like these smaller icebergs a lot. We had so much fun watching them, because they do bunches of laughable stuff. For instance, one group kept climbing up onto the iceberg, then getting too close to the edge and sliding off into the water. The group in the picture climbed up, saw that their friends were already on the iceberg, and then ran as fast as they could join their buddies. Well…I’m not totally sure they knew the other penguins, but they sure wanted to be part of that bigger group. You can see them hurrying as fast as they can go — which is not all that fast. They are much faster when they are in the water. That’s good, because the water is full of things that like to eat penguins, like seals and orcas. Maybe they seem so happy when they’re on an iceberg because they are safer when they’re out of the water.

Last of all, it was so warm today that the small iceberg calved. That happened right at sunset, which was about 2:30 this afternoon. I was listening to the crew talking on their radios, and I heard someone on the bridge say, “Can you hear that ice grinding and popping?” I couldn’t hear it, but then the captain said we were going to move away from the iceberg, out to a safer distance. I found Rainy and Ash and told them about all this, and Rainy said, “I bet the iceberg’s going to calve! Let’s go up to the bridge and watch.”

So we got our jackets and went up there. We stood outside watching it for a long time, or so it seemed to me. The sun went down, and it got too dark to take good pictures, so I put my camera in its case. Just then, whoosh, a big chunk of ice fell majestically off of the iceberg and into the ocean. It kicked up a big cloud of ice powder and water spray. We still didn’t hear anything. I guess the wind was blowing the wrong direction. But it was beautiful to watch. I hope we will get to see another calving before we have to leave Antarctica. That day is getting closer and closer. 🙁

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