July has been a month of change at Rothera. The start of the month saw us getting back to work after the excitement of the Medivac followed by the midwinters week as well as our first decent high pressure system of the winter with clear skies, no wind and rapidly forming sea ice. I have spent a few days in the last month helping the dive team so thought I would focus this months blog on photos of them (mainly because I think they’re insane). Diving happens year round at Rothera either from boats or from holes in the sea ice. With the good weather at the start of the month the sea ice was quickly strong enough to hold a Skidoo and a couple of holes were cut in “Hangar Cove”.
Sea Ice as far as the eye can see. This is actually the view North from just below the main building on base. Our permanent sunrise /sunset over the icebergs. Hangar Cove is on the far left of the picture. The dive hole in Hangar Cove getting cleared of any ice build up. The ice was 50cm thick and the hole is cut with a chainsaw with the blocks then pulled out with ice screws. I’ve never been sold on diving as a recreational activity and I’m definitely not sold on doing it underneath 50cm of ice. With any diving at Rothera someone is sent out half an hour early as “Seal Watch”. If any Leopard seals are spotted the dive is called off. Leopard seals have been known to attack divers and even boats – now imagine getting in that hole!Kate (Dive Officer) getting ready to go in. The dive team have various ongoing science projects which involve collecting and monitoring different species.
Saz looking extremely happy!Kate and Saz (Marine Assistant) getting kitted up by Malcy (Base Commander) and Ben (Marine Scientist).Adam (Boating Officer) and Ben monitoring the divers with Rothera in the background. There is also a second hole over to the left (not seen in the photo) for emergencies.
Saz finishing the dive. I have been assured that its actually quite warm when you’re swimming around. Waiting for the divers on the surface is usually freezing! While the sea ice was good the four field assistants headed out to test it so that others could go out on it. Dave giving the tide crack a good hit with a bog chisel while Al looks on. The tide cracks are usually the weakest part – in this one you could see the water moving in the crack but the ice on the other side of it was over 20cm thick.
Mt Liotard and Ryder bay. With the permanent sunset and and amazing colours of the ice we had a spectacular ski on the sea ice drilling holes every 100m to test how thick it was and managed to ski all the way round the peninsular that Rothera sits on.
Skiing on the sea ice with Jenny island in the distance.
Getting close to the icebergs on the sea ice is amazing though you cant get too close in case one rolls.
The sea ice disappeared pretty quick after a stormy couple of days so it was back to the boats for the divers. Above – Adam looks on as Kate gets Ben ready for a dive. Helping out on the boats is great to get a glimpse into other peoples work day. Ben and Saz coming up after a successful dive. The grey stick poking out of the water on the left is the seal prod in case one gets to close. I think he’s smiling. On the 23rd someone finally saw the sun on base and we raised the flag to mark the end of the dark period. Traditionally the youngest raises the flag and gets to say a few words. This year Bradders had the honour and read us a great poem while we sipped gin and tonics with glacial ice.Bradders raising the flag as Jesus and Hector look on.
The days get longer really quickly down here with about 9 minutes of extra light a day. We currently have enough light to ski after work and the winter trips have started again so if the weather plays ball August will hopefully mean more skiing and climbing and less time on base.