In the process of scouting for seals, sometimes you end up in the most amazing places, like the sea ice edge.
Friday was our last day for deployments. We successfully tagged four animals in two days, and suddenly, just like that we were done. 28 animals tagged this season, 42 tagged over the course of both seasons. 34 models built, 8 left to go, and suddenly, the season has come to a close. We had our first legitimate day off of the season this weekend, we have already started packing up the lab, and Markus left the ice on the first flight out this morning. John, Rachel, Jo, Allyson, and I are still here, searching for animals to recover tags from, cleaning the lab, and packing up our gear to ship back home.
I cannot believe how quickly the time has passed. In some ways, I feel as though I just arrived on the ice, and in others it is piercingly clear just how much time has passed while I have been away. It’s strange being here in Antarctica, especially here at McMurdo. You almost start to believe that time stops at home, that the world stops spinning with the eternal daylight down here at the bottom of the Earth, but alas, the days are passing and life has continued to go on despite your odd displacement from it.
We have another week left here, there is plenty of work to be done yet, but it’s hard to avoid the blatant truth that our time here is coming to a close. Reality is just around the corner and whether you’re excited to leave, heartbroken, or somewhere in between, your return to the real world is inevitable and drawing nearer.
I don’t know that I can even quite explain, or even process, everything that I am feeling at the moment. The last couple of days have been fantastic, taking some time, walking up to Observation Hill with friends, going scouting for seals without the pressure of completing more deployments, spending time with the people whom you’ve truly come to care for on the ice, and trying to ignore the goodbyes that will soon commence. Yet, it is all part of the experience, part of being down here; your presence is only temporary and a re-occurrence never guaranteed.
That is part of the amazing thing about coming down to Antarctica though, you never know when, if ever, you’ll receive the opportunity to come back. I cannot believe how fortunate I am to have been given the opportunity to spend two seasons on the ice, to be a part of B470 and such an amazing project. It’s getting tougher with each day, but there is no benefit in thinking about leaving when it’s not here yet. There is still work to be done, time spent on the ice to enjoy, and dreading my departure is only going to hold me back.
Thierry, Ally, Mee-ya, and Jesse