Questions About McMurdo

from California

To: Penny Carroll []

Hi Dave,

Today is March 20, 1996. We are all reading your web pages now on the computers in our Mac-Lab. Here are our questions for you-

What is the inside of McMurdo Research Station like? Sally

Hi Sally, McMurdo Station is made up of many buildings, and almost looks like a small town. There is a fire department, a hospital, garages, dormitories, a bowling alley, gyms, storage buildings, and other buildings. I work in the Crary Lab building, which is a large building that contains research labs and offices. We have an office there, where we control the equipment in the station on the top of a hill a few miles out of town.

How many penguins have you seen the whole time you've been there? Sally

Hi Sally, The most penguins I have seen in a group is 18. I have seen a few smaller groups, and a few single penguins.

Have you ever seen an Orca? Maia

Hi Maia,

I think I saw an Orca. A day or so after the ice left the sound, I saw a big black thing slowly coming out of the water near the ice edge. Orca whales are meat eaters, and will stick their heads out of the water looking for seals and penguins on the ice edge. I do not know of other whales that will do this action.

How many people are working with you now? Sandra

Hi Sandra.

There is one fellow named Matt that works with me. There is a total of 233 people working in McMurdo this winter.

How many people have you met in McMurdo? Do you know my grandfather Raymond Chaun? He has led seven research expeditions to Mount Erebus? Kia

Hi Kia, There are 233 people here this winter, but I do not think I have met them all. The people are very friendly, it is almost like a big family. I do not know your grandfather, and tried to find some information about him in the library here, but I was not successful. The Erebus observatory is in the next office to mine, but the scientists that work there in the summer are all home in their warm houses. There is a science technician that keeps the records and sends them to the scientists. During the summer season, I am sure that the scientists in the observatory would know your grandfather.

Have you ever seen a rookery? Has anyone died lately in Antarctica? David

Hi David,

I have only seen pictures of the penguin rookeries. I would like to visit one, but they the nearest one is many miles away. The last fatality in this area was in 1994, when someone fell from Castle Rock. There was a man that froze to death this past summer in one of the other research stations. He got caught in a whiteout, where he could not see anything but white. When the wind calmed down, they found him a few hundred feet from warmth and safety.

Are there any women scientists working at McMurdo Research Station and what are they working on? Have you ever seen any penguins or other marine mammals that have been ill? Have any veterinarians ever been down to do research? If so, what did they study? Have you ever fallen in a crevasse? Wyatt

Hi Wyatt,

There are not many science projects this time of year. In the summer, there are many women scientists here, working on all types of projects. Some of the projects are soil science, marine biology and ice cores. I think the ice core projects are neat. That is where they drill down through the ice, and get ice that is hundreds of years old. They can monitor the history of weather and pollution over many years. I have never seen any sick animals, and I do not know if any veterinarians have been here. It is possible for any scientist to do research here. They only need to present the National Science Foundation with information on what they want to research. I have never fallen in a crevasse, and do not want to. It can be very dangerous.

Do you do any underwater work? Allison

Hi Allison,

I do not do any underwater work. Most of my work is in a warm building. Matt Nelson, the fellow that works with me, went swimming in a hole in the ice a few years ago. He said the water was very very cold.

Has anyone you have known ever studied a penguin up close? Maia

Hi Maia,

I have seen penguins from about 20 feet away. I would not go any closer, as I do not want to bother them. I have not met anyone that studied the penguins, but there are studies in the summer.

How dark is it now in Antarctica? How many hours of darkness do you have now in one day? Kimberly

Hi Kimberly,

A few days ago on the equinox, all areas in the world had the same amount of daylight, 12 hours. Now the days are getting shorted here as they get longer in your area. In about a month, we will see out last sunset for about 4 months.

What is your favorite thing about your time in Antarctica? James

Hi James,

I think my favorite thing is the beauty of the nature. The air is so clear, and the mountains and the ice are very pretty.

How long is McMurdo Research Station? Harrison

Hi Harrison,

McMurdo is like a small town. It was built in the mid 1950s by the US Navy.

Why do penguins swim so fast? Abby

Hi Abby, Penguins are birds that cannot fly. Their wings act as flippers or fins in the water. They probably swim fast so they do not become a snack for a whale.

Why do penguins live only south of the equator? Eve

Hi Eve,

I do not know the answer. Why do polar bears live only in the north?

Have you ever been on an iceberg? Harrison

Hi Harrison,

I have never been on an iceburg. That sounds a little too dangerous for me.

Do head lice live down there? Abby

Hi Abby,

I imagine they could come down on someone, but I do not know of any. Before we come down, we have to get examined by doctors. Hopefully the doctors would catch them before they get here.

Dave, I hope we have not overwhelmed you. Don't feel as though you have to answer all of them. Thanks for your time. Penny

Hi Penny,

I am sorry it took so long to answer, but things get busy here, and many times I do not have much free time in the evenings. I will answer each question, because they are all important to the kids. Sometimes I do not know the answers, but I will just say so. Thanks for the letters,
David Hess NK3T
Presently living in beautiful downtown McMurdo, Antarctica.

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