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Saturday, November 3, 2007: Sideshow SCINI Dive, Tent Time
Today we flew SCINI at our second dive site, code name SIDESHOW. The sea floor around New Harbor is desolate compared to many regions in the world, including the McMurdo area, but it's still got a lot of strange critters, like this green sucker sponge (Latrunculia apicalis), brittle stars (Ophionotus victoriae), and lots of bernacchii fish (Trematomus bernacchii).


We're starting to get much smoother with our deployments, this 1 minute clip shows a deployment from surface to the bottom from SCINI's perspective, sped up 200%. Because of refraction (water's index of refraction is 1.33, air's is very close to 1.0), our lens is focused to just 2-3 inches in front of the dome; this is why the Scott tent looks blurry but Bob's foot is in good focus at the beginning.

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SCINI diving at the "sideshow" site (small, large)

Some areas of the sea floor are a blank grey and even with a depth sensor we could accidentally ram into the ground and stir up sediment if we tried a free descent. This is why we follow down a rope with flags every 10 feet and a bright green weight that rests on the ground.

Coming back to The Life Antarctic, Stacy and I are putting our Happy Camper School skills to use sleeping in tents at night while everybody else crams into the Jamesway on cots in the dry nasty heat, sweltering and smelly like a malaria ward.

We chose spots about a hundred meters away from the camp down on the "moat" ice; this region is off shore (so we don't disturb any more desert sand than we have to, though of course there's more snow coverage than expected) but on the near side of the pressure ridges and crevases, so we don't have to cross cracks like this one in Condition 2 to get back to the Jamesways and food in the mornings (of course I fell down the crack taking this photo...).

We don't have enough ice screws to tie down every corner of the tent, so we use a mountaineering trick and use a single screw to drill out two intersecting shafts and run our tent tie down ropes through this loop in the ice. It's only a few inches deep but that's enough to hold more than my body weight of force.

These are two person tents, but we each fill one up with our giant super warm sleeping bags, outerwear, bags, etc.

When the wind picks up snow gets everywhere, creeping in through the cracks and little rips. Here's the pile of snow that built up under the rain cover on top of the inner tent:

Here's all the stuff I'll take with me out to the tent every night; it's a nice routine getting all this together before tromping out one last time at the end of the day:
  • Radio
  • Hot Water Bottle (boiling hot to start)
  • Extra Water Bottle
  • Pee Bottle
  • 2 Chocolate bars
  • Tail Mix
  • Cellphone Alarm
  • Dry Socks
While I'm at it, I'll list all the stuff I carry around with me just in my man-body-purse (aka Big Red) all the time, even back at McMurdo.
  • Dry Glove Liners
  • Gloves
  • Neck Warmer
  • Hat
  • Ski Goggles
  • 2 Chocolate Bars
  • Energy Bar
  • Chemical Hand-warmers (just in case)
  • 1 Liter Water Pouch
  • Chapstick
  • Cough Drops
  • Trash (wrappers, found bamboo splinters, etc)
It's a lot of weight but it's nicely spread around my body so I barely notice it any more. I also carry a VHF radio if I'm on my own or far from help.

We've been lucky with weather so far, but we've heard stormy weather is on the way. It's like working on the moon out here, very beautiful and surreal!

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This material is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. ANT-0619622 ( Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.