Blog post by William & Mary undergraduate student Kharis Schrage.
When Jack left off last week, I was the murderer in our ship-wide game. I was on the night shift, but there were people I had to kill off at dinner, so I woke up to kill them, but then at 11:30 pm I was challenged and killed off with just 30 minutes to go. We started a new murder game with specific targets, locations, and “murder weapons” – Debbie took out both Tricia and me. My demise came via a guitar and Tricia’s via a bucket. In other game news, Tricia is the only one from our lab still in the cribbage tournament – we’re banking on her!
Anyways, we deployed moorings and sediment traps on our way up from Charcot last week, which apparently went well! We cleaned up the lab and inventoried everything, entered data, and packed. We even had a King Neptune Ceremony where us “pollywogs” who hadn’t passed through the Polar Circle before were “tried for our crimes against King Neptune” by the “shellbacks” and had to perform a skit to appease him! Joe got to be King Neptune, Debbie was his Queen, and Jack was their baby! We made a whole morning celebration of it – it was lots of fun!
The last few days before Palmer Station, we spent in the northern bays so that the whale team could work. For a few days, anytime we went out on deck we were practically guaranteed a whale sighting. In Wilhelmina Bay, we saw dozens of humpbacks (and took hundreds of pictures)! It was spectacular! We even got to go on zodiac rides to watch them bubble feed. Our last evening there we saw a family breaching, and that was especially exciting!
At Palmer we all took a final hike up the glacier – it was nice to stretch our legs after being on the boat for a few weeks. After lunch, we got to go to Tourgison Island to see the Adelie penguin colony! There are a few hundred penguins on the island. They smelled pretty bad, but they’re also really cute, so it was worth it. We had to stay back an appropriate distance, but sometimes they approached us while we were sitting which was cool. The chicks are just growing out of their fluff and looked kind of funny! They were chasing adults all over the place trying to get food. That evening Jack and I did the Polar Plunge and then hit the hot tub. It was a great end to our trip.
Monday we started our journey home. It is quite bitter sweet. I have had such a great time getting to know everyone and experiencing this place. It has been the most incredible, surreal few weeks. The science went well, the people were fun, the wildlife was amazing, and the scenery was fantastic. We could not have asked for a better cruise.