31 Dec 2006

Casey Station

After spending some more time on the open ocean, it was exciting to have the continent just outside my porthole again. Even though I had been to Davis Station only five days earlier, it was still striking to travel for days across a wilderness of ocean and ice, and then see people emerging from buildings on the horizon. By 8:00 am, the station leader and a small team were onboard to brief us. The first of the new expeditioners were sent ashore to prepare for thecargo operations ahead. This time, my trip to land was in a small boat called a Pagodroma.

Casey is located on the coast of Wilkes Land, in a wildlife rich area of low rocky islands and peninsulas. During summer — when the station’s population more than doubles — the temperature occasionally rises above freezing. In winter, when the sea freezes over, it’s a different story for the 20 or so winterers, who regularly experience temperatures into the minus twenties and thirties! Not even the most powerful ships can reach them until the sea ice begins to break up again in the spring. Just like the emperor penguins on the ice in the dark — a little group in a very cold place — the station’s winterers are cut off from the rest of the world.

Meal times in Antarctica bring people together. Thanks to hydroponics, you can even expect fresh greens.

“Because there are no insects around, we have to pollinate the cucumber flowers with a small paintbrush. It’s enjoyable work and it’s great to see everyone pile the fresh greens onto their plates at lunchtime.” Jim Behrens

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