The National Zoo's Antarctica Expedition is sponsored by the National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs.
All photographs depicting Weddell seals were taken under NMFS Permit No. 763-1485-00 issued under the authority of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Here I am, sitting at my desk at the Zoo in Washington, D.C. I have 16 days to go before my departure. It’s mindnumbingly hot outside (in the 90s, and D.C.’s famous humidity). I am comparing the lists of expedition supplies we requested with the list of expedition supplies we are supposed to receive. Unfortunately, both are in what seems to be random order, and a different random order for that matter…this is very tedious!
Even though I have traveled to Antarctica before, I am amazed at the amount of stuff required to set up a team of eight in the field. Just as an example
The way it works in the U.S. Antarctic Program is that we get all our gear, from matches to snowmobiles, from four different sources:
The vast majority of things we need, we have to request or bring ourselves. As a result, somebody has to keep track of all the supplies. This is the least glorious part of any expedition, but one of its most vital. What if we get into the field and I forgot to request enough fuel for the stove, or enough toilet paper, for that matter?
Unlike the first explorers, we won’t be completely stuck—we will be quite close to the American base, McMurdo Station, and will be able to request supplies. Still, having to get supplies will waste time, and may not be possible at all if the weather is bad.