Even with science occurring round the clock on Healy, there still has to be time for a little fun. Scientists and crew alike have been going a little stir crazy around here due to the fact that up until recently we were in open water for almost a week. This means no ice stations, and very little chances to be outside. This all changed when, on Sunday we reached the ice again, and Monday we had our first long ice station. It was a beautiful day for an ice station- the sun was out, there was no wind and it was around 30-35 degrees F outside. All the scientists set out to work on the ice around 14:30 (2pm). While we were working, some of the Healy's crew came out and unrolled a HUGE banner that was done by a school in Maryland for the US Coast Guard. It had to be at least as long as the Healy (420 feet!!) if not longer.
Around dinner time (17:00, 5pm) they announced over the intercom system that any personnel (science party or crew) wishing to go on the ice could, and did not have to wear any protective gear- which means regular, warm clothes out on the ice! This is the first time during this cruise that we have been able to go out on the ice in regular clothing. About half of the ship's crew and science party took advantage of this opportunity, and an impromptu game of kickball soon started up!
Just when we thought the day couldn't get any better, shortly after we got back on board and left the station, we saw our first walrus herd! About 15-20 individuals were sighted not far from the ship. We slowly cruised by to get a photo or two of these fabulous marine mammals.
This day also happened to coincide with our very last multicore of the cruise. We have less than one week now until we get off the ship and head back home. We won't take any more cores because we need the time to continue processing what we have already collected. Many of the other groups on board will continue to sample until Sunday (5/4) as we travel south towards Dutch Harbor, because their samples aren't as time intensive as ours. If we were to take any more cores this late in the cruise, we won't have enough time to collect the data we need. So from here on out our days will be filled with processing the samples we have already collected and packing up our gear. Everything has to be organized on pallets and stowed in the cargo hold (2 floors below the main lab) before we get off the ship.
It's hard to believe that our cruise is slowly coming to an end. I am looking forward to getting home, but I will definitely miss my time spent on Healy and all the new friends I've made along the way. This has been a memorable experience that I am lucky to say I have been a part of.