Thursday, August 18, 2011

Update 5 – Zombies

bones at Kekerton
Tuesday, August 9, 2011, instead of just looking at Kekerton Island through binoculars, we took the zodiac ashore. Wind swept, the island the station sits on is mostly formed of white granite covered with black lichen. Everywhere the rock is exposed, it sparkled. Once it was thought this area was rich in gold – I see how that assumption was formed by just looking at the rocks. A few patches of tundra thrived in the otherwise barren landscape. Tundra is squishy underfoot and, this time of year, green dotted with flowers and mushrooms ranging in colour from copper to red. A yellow butterfly flitted between blades of grass and flowers then darted out of sight when I tried to get its photograph.

The old whaling station has morphed into a park complete with plaques describing what to see, which isn't much anymore. Three rusting metal cauldrons, each huge in size, lined the designated path. I imagined whalers used them for rendering the whale blubber, but, I don't really know and I didn't bother reading the sign. Most of the buildings are completely gone – recycled by the Inuit into who knows what (at least everything got re-used). Graves still remain. The unfortunate people who died on Kekerton Island were 'buried' in wooden boxes and old barrels with rocks stacked on top. With time and perhaps polar bear intervention, most of the boxes have been cracked open. One box in particular was rendered completely open and clearly held two complete human skeletons. I wonder who they were? Being a whaler was clearly not an easy job.

Mr Noodle bowl garbage
Bones were scattered most everywhere I looked. I assume most belonged to animals, including a massive bowhead whale lower jaw bone and a smaller skull likely from a walrus. A few shards of pottery poked out of the rocks along with rusted links of chain. An old anchor rested on one of the rocks near the water as though someone put it there with the intention of retrieving it – even today it looked ready to be used. A friendly blue modern cabin and outhouse both with yellow trim sit at one end of the park. The cabin is small and cozy, it would be comfortable to stay in – way larger than my cabin on the ship. Unfortunately, others (not us) left garbage behind. In between the rocks empty pop cans and a Mr. Noodle bowl made of eternally-lasting styrofoam remained as a reminder of careless visitors.

That night we anchored again near Kekerton Island resulting in endless zombie jokes. We must have been tired because we actually found them funny.

polar eelpout
Saturday, August 13, 2011 – The weather has been calm and is forcasted to stay this way. Days blur together now as there isn't much variety to our tasks. Each day starts with pulling up the fishing line and processing the fish, a task that typically takes until early afternoon or longer. Then, I get in a CTD cast or two. In the evening the fishing line with just under 600 hooks is re-baited with squid from New Jersey and set out for recovery the next morning. We've had a couple successful fishing days, on Iva's last day we caught 75 turbot for her (her thesis revolves around turbot), which was the biggest turbot catch so far. The only fish caught that wasn't a turbot, skate or shark was a polar eelpout and only one took our bait. Head dwarfed the eelpout's gray stripped body and it was small compared to everything else we've caught. Since it was a new fish, I took pictures, then, we released it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 – Still fishing. Today started with our first fire/abandon ship drill. As a scientist, my tasks include getting my life-jacket out of my bunk and grabbing an immersion suit. Then, I go to the bridge to wait for direction. The bridge is my muster station, which always becomes mustard station in my mind. For this morning's drill, Kevin (the only other scientist currently on board) and I were in the lounge when the alarm went off. This immediately raised the question of if we should go down to our cabin, as it is a deck below where we were, to get a life-jacket or, just grab an immersions suit (which are stored in the lounge) and go to the bridge. We decided not to get the life-jackets, which turned out to be the wrong choice. Shortly after the first drill concluded as second one was called – this time we showed up with life-jacket's in hand.

Now that going home is getting closer and closer, my mind is wandering to the things I'd like to do when I get home – a long hot bath tops my list.

1 comment:

  1. I love your descriptions of the clash between natural beauty and human intervention. And it sounds like things are going well. Thanks for keeping us up to date on your adventures :)