Stress? What Stress?

It's two in the morning. I should be sleeping. I'll be facing 45 middle schoolers in a few hours. I definitely should be sleeping. But my mind is racing. Today marks ten days until I deploy. I go over my to do list in my head. Sometimes my lists help ease my nerves, organize my thoughts, but not tonight. I’m sure most of you can relate. So much to do, and so little time. But I’ll get it done. I have to.

I guess it’s all about balance. That last e-mail notifying me of yet another task I needed to get done before I lost the internet just about did me in. But, I took a deep breath, and made a priority list. One by one I’ve been checking off my list. Hours of online training. Check. Polar TREC requirements. Check. Shopping…done. Media interviews, outreach to schools organized…check, check. Research- reading up on Polar Science…well, still working on that one. Then there are my school responsibilities- finish a grant report, write another grant…yikes! The deadline is tomorrow! And of course, get my substitute plans ready. And yet I still need to keep teaching! All of this tends to overwhelm me. I need to keep my life balanced among this chaos. So, I take time to spend with my family. I’ll be pretty much out of touch for seven weeks. I need that support system. I certainly can’t do this without them. I also take time for myself. I need to eat right and exercise. I TRY to get enough sleep. If I neglect me, I could get sick and cancel everything. Balance.

In my mind, I just can't still completely accept that this is going to happen. After all of the hurdles that have been thrown my way, I keep waiting for the next obstacle to arise. I guess when I get on that plane for that 16 hour flight, it might finally sink in.
I've been given an opportunity that few people in the world get to experience. I am so thankful, and so blessed. I can't wait to get started.

Anchor Ice with juvenile Antarctic Fish- Photo by Rob Robbins and Steve Rupp
USAP divers Rob Robbins and Steve Rupp photograph anchor ice with juvenile Antarctic fish.

Science Waits For No One

Platelet Ice with Antarctic Fish By Rob Robbins and Steve Rupp
USAP divers Rob Robbins and Steve Rupp photograph anchor ice with juvenile Antarctic fish.

I've been thrilled to see the pictures being posted by my scientists already. The USAP divers are getting amazing shots underwater. This photo by Rob Robbins shows anchor ice, a type of platelet ice, that forms at the bottom of the ocean under extremely cold conditions. It reminds me of stalagmites rising up from a cave floor. It provides perfect protection for juvenile Antarctic fish to hide from predators.
Weddell Seals Under Sea Ice by Rob Robbins and Steve Rupp
USAP divers Rob Robbins and Steve Rupp photograph Weddell Seals under Ice

In this picture by Rob Robbins and Steve Rupp, Weddel seals show off their diving skills. These amazing creatures can hold their breath for 45 minutes while they dive to 2000 feet. I can't wait to meet one!!


So, now its your turn to help me out. I would love to know what you are curious to learn about Antarctica. If I don't know....and I probably don't yet...I will have fun finding out. Just post in the comments below any journal entry.

Well, until I can't sleep again...
Stay Cool,


George Geysen

Dear Ms. Hardoy,

How do the fish not freeze? I know and am well aware that fish are cold-blooded and cannot generate their own heat. I am surprised that the fish's blood doesn't freeze instantly. Also, where do they get their nutrients from?

Denise Hardoy

Well, the nutrients are easy. The cold Southern Ocean has plentiful phytoplankton that they feed on. While the Antarctic is barren above, the ocean actually has a very biodiverse ecosystem. Not freezing is more of a mystery. I know most species have modified hemoglobin that helps them cope, but I will definitely ask Dr. Todgham when I get down to Antarctica.

George G.

Dear Ms. Hardoy,

Thank you so much for your response! I cannot wait to hear about the freezing details! I forgot to mention that I attend Sand Creek Middle School in New York State. I am in Ms. Sebert's class. Have a great day!


What do you eat there except for popcorn and snacks? Do you eat the animals there or do you have your own food there?

Denise Hardoy

There would only really be seals and penguins to eat. So, I'm glad that we try to not impact the ecosystem by hunting. All of our food is shipped down with us in those big C130 cargo planes. Not too much fresh produce I hear!

Tom B. Carvey

Thanks so much for coming by our middle school class at San Lucas School and letting us know about your trip. We're excited that you'll be there and that we can communicate with your while you're doing your research. Please keep us in touch!

Denise Hardoy

Absolutely. I had fun and the kids had great questions. Looking forward to hearing from you all when I'm
on ice.