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.
The Carp Shop
September 21, 2006
The other day, I was supposed to go out again, this time for a sea-ice training course. Sea ice is considered a hazardous environment, and all personnel working or traveling on sea ice are required to complete this safety training. Even though I have previously spent several months living in a tent on sea ice, the course has to be taken every five years and so I have to repeat it. However, one look out of the door on my way to breakfast told me that we were not going anywhere today—it was blowing snow, hard, and the view out of the window resembled nothing so much as a madly shaken snow globe.
I got the confirmation on my pager soon after. So instead I decided to walk up to the Carp Shop, short for Carpenters’ Shop, the Science Construction headquarters. Geordan, the head of Science Construction, had emailed me earlier that they were getting our fish huts ready for us, and I wanted to discuss some details with him. The Carp Shop is up the hill on a piece of prime real estate with a lovely view of the base in clear weather.
As soon as I headed outside, my face was getting blasted by ice crystals, so I put on snow goggles, my chute, pulled my hood tight, and trudged up the hill against the wind. By the time I got up to the Carp Shop, I was caught inside my parka. Geordan had to come to my rescue and disentangle my hood toggles. No doubt I just reinforced any stereotypes he might have regarding us “beakers.”
Fish huts are so named because they have a hatch set in the floor so they can be placed over holes drilled in the ice for fishing. Heating the huts prevents the hole from re-freezing, and provides a comfortable shelter for the people doing the fishing. Fish huts are also used as portable shelters for field parties. They are set on runners and can be towed across the sea ice to the campsite. We have requested two fish huts for our field camp, one to be used as a laboratory space and one as a general kitchen/lounge area. Both huts are spacious, heated, and can be hooked up to a power supply. It is really pure luxury. Inside our lab hut, I talked to Theresa, one of the carpenters, about where to place shelving and a desk for doing computer work.
I spent the afternoon in my office catching up on correspondence, expedition logistics, and also my dispatches.