Tagging Whales in the Antarctic Seas

Palmer Station (Sat., 5/9/09)-The Battle at Base Brown
by -- May 12th, 2009

Deadly, dangerous, deceitful. Scientists are all of these. Whether it takes form in freezing helpless krill, kicking their last feeble kicks as they near dewars of liquid nitrogen, or sneaking up on sleeping whales, smacking their Goodyear like backsides with tags. Their dubious urges know no bounds, or limits.

Today was no exception.  As a marine technician aboard the Laurence M. Gould it is my job to slave through the many demeaning and daunting requests of the principal investigators aboard the ship.  I woke to raucous laughter in an intoxicating moonlit night.  Like madmen they plotted on the bridge a course to raid the unsuspecting Argentine Base Brown sometime shortly after noon, when the sun would set over the glacier tipped mountains and the glow would camouflage their mustang coats.  I was shocked as they sharpened their radio antennae to dangerous points, to hear their intentions to steal the alcohol stored there.

(49) Ninja Pat

Ninja Pat

Fear seized me, and as though the white knuckles of Colonel Sanders himself were wrapping ‘round my neck I felt choked.  I must do something, but what? They were on me like a leopard seal on yogurt.  Day after day I fetched coffee and tea, served as an ottoman, and piloted zodiacs through tumultuous bays rent with ice!  There would be no way, I knew, but try I must.  The thought of a Base Brown without booze was too much to bear.

I snuck away sometime between my daily berating and my nightly flogging and grappled with the single side band radio on the bridge.  Just after contact with our friends to the North I had but a minute to send the message when the chief scientist, Devious Doug Nowacek himself burst in, grabbing my collar and throwing me out of the chair.

“Ready the zodiac, peon!” he pelted, “We’ll be there in an hour, and I intend to take that place by storm, by the time they know what hit them, we won’t know what hit us!”

I sniveled a quick “yessir” and bolted down to the crane, had they heard? Would they evacuate, or at least hide the sauce soon enough to save the night?  Did they understand the desire, the passion, with which these people considered their iniquities? With only an hour to spare, whatever they decided, it would need to happen fast.

(53) LM Gould in Paradise Bay

LM Gould in Paradise Bay

We soon entered a bay so beautiful and placid it was deemed too pristine for marine tech eyes, and I was blindfolded.  Driving a zodiac in the setting sun, trying to peer through the threadbare sock they tied ‘round my eyes for the dock, dumb with the roar of whispers about me, I wished only for the salvation of Base Brown spirits.  The sock was torn from my head as we hit the concrete steps leading into the water, and with a roar our company stormed the shore.

(52) Victor (LMG Electronics Technician) sledding

Victor (LMG Electronics Technician) sledding

I couldn’t believe my snow blind eyes; the base had been abandoned! Those clever Argentines! They left the grounds in such a quiet that in the bewilderment of the moment those pillaging PhD’s were struck, distracted in the stillness.  I saw my opportunity, “SNOWBALL FIGHT!” I cried, and plowed Ari in the side of the head with a crusty chunk; I ducked as his toss smeared Reny, and the rest is history.  Pictures of all against a staggering backdrop were taken en masse, human toboggan rides abounded, and in general peace was found.  We left Base Brown without a single drink, but we took with us a childlike wonder and the appetite of an army.  Tomorrow, we’ll be at Palmer Station, and we’ll satiate our thirst after all.

2 Comments

  1. Kirsten Moy
    May 16, 2009

    Thank you

    This post is fantastic. I was laughing orange juice this morning as I read. Though from your account it sounds as if times are hard. Keep your head up and your sense of humor at your fingertips for future blogs! Thanks for the read and I’ll send you the bill for cleaning orange juice out of my keyboard

  2. Jemiro
    Jan 26, 2010

    Funny

    wow hahaha 🙂 so nice

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