5 MAY 1995
Sir Douglas Mawson was born on 5 May 1882 in West Yorkshire, England. When he celebrated his birthday in Antarctic in 1912 they gave him silk handkerchiefs and a book. The cook prepared a special meal and the men sang and dressed up to make the evening a celebration. He had winds gusting up to almost 150 knots. Two blizzards in a row, one on Friday and one on Saturday, made this week memorable for us. We had constant winds for more than 12 hours going from 70 knots to 100 knots.
The low temperatures now are averaging around minus 20 degrees Celsius outside. Inside the hut when we wake up in the morning it is usually between minus 10 and minus 8 so we very quickly turn on the heater. We're running the heater more now and trying to maintain the temperature between 15 and 18 degrees. We put the lights on inside the hut as early as 3 o'clock in the afternoon. The sun is very low on the horizon at midday. It's quite glary and getting lower each week. There is an appreciable difference each week so we're definitely losing the sun. Dawn and dusk are becoming tinted with strange colours even when the actual sun is hidden behind the clouds and drift snow.
The fierce cold is taking it's toll on our equipment. Margie was very upset this week when she destroyed our "pee" toilet bucket. It was minus 15 degrees and she was emptying the bucket when it shattered due to the cold. We collected all the pieces so we didn't litter Antarctica but we are now down to only two "pee" buckets left to last us for the rest of the year. This was our disaster for the week!

We attempted to do some observations of animals feeding at different times of the day. This is an interesting project and we thought that many of you would be like to how what we observed. Your science teachers can explain some of this material to you if I explain too briefly. When scientists plan an animal observation project, the first thing they do is learn a lot about the subject they are attempting to observe. So if you go to the library and look up the animals of Antarctica you will find that there are only two types of animals in Antarctica: birds and mammals.

The birds consist of many types of gulls, petrels, albatrosses, prions, shearwaters, cormorants, skuas, terns and seven types of penguins. Not all the penguins live on the Antarctic continent. Many of them live on the islands that surround Antarctica. On the Antarctic continent and the Antarctic peninsula only four of the seven types of penguin are seen. So a scientist would learn all this before he or she attempted to put together an observation project. The four types of penguins that visit the Antarctic continent and peninsula are the Emperor, the Adelie, the Chinstrap and the Gentoo. The Chinstrap and the Gentoo are only seen on the Antarctic peninsula which is the narrow 'tail' of Antarctica that extends toward South America. I mentioned in an earlier journal that the last of the penguins have left the area. Mawson and the text books agree that the penguins will not be back until mid-October. So there are no penguins for us to observe just now.

The other group of animals that live in Antarctica are the mammals: whales and seals. There are two types of whales, baleen and toothed. All of these whales feed off shore so we don't get a chance to observe then feeding from the land. The baleen whales are larger than the toothed whales, except for the sperm whale which has teeth and is about 16 metres long. The big baleen whales use their unusual strainer-like, fringed, fibrous "teeth" to filter the tiny plankton from the sea water. They spend a lot of time feeding near the surface of the ocean.
The baleen whales found in Antarctica are the Blue Whale about 24 metres long; the Fin whale, 20 metres; the Sei whale, 16 metres; the Southern Right whale, 20 metres; the Humpback whale, 18 metres; and the Minke whale, 9 metres. The toothed whale family has the Sperm whale, 16 metres; the Killer whale, 9 metres; the Bottlenosed whale, 10 metres; Southern Bottlenosed whale, 7 metres; the Blackfish, 4 metres; and three types of dolphin, the Dusky dolphin, 2.5 metres; the Cruciger dolphin, 2 metres; and the Spectacled porpoise, 2 metres. The toothed whales dive deep to find their prey but like all mammals they must breathe air so they have to return to the surface regularly. The seals, there are six types in Antarctica. The Elephant seal, 6 metres; the Leopard seal, 3.5 metres; Weddell seals, 3 metres; Crabeater seals, 2.5 metres; Ross seals, 2.5 metres; and Fur seals, 1.8 metres.
The seals have learned to co-exist by dividing up their feeding areas to eliminate most of the competition for food. Sometimes several species of seals will chase an abundant prey and feed side by side! Seals eat fish, squid, krill and penguins. If we wanted to observe these animals feeding then we would need a boat and scuba gear to see them feed.
We haven't seen any seals at all this week. So Kyogle High, we have to postpone our observations for you. This is why we came to spend a year in Antarctica. We wanted to learn all about the seasonal changes in this strange and unfamiliar land. The spring in Antarctica should offer us a lot of opportunities for animal observations.

Mawson talked about St. Elmo's Fire and we have hardly seen any. We are finding out a lot about static electricity. Margie and I are both getting substantial shock from various items in and around the hut. The VHF radio aerial which is on top of the hut is transmitting an electric charge down through the aerial cable into the hut. We can make the spark jump up to 10 or 12 mm like a spark plug! We lost another week of weather data and we have concluded that the huge amount of static electricity must be creating problems. We are leaving the cable connected to the computer and leaving the computer out instead of stowing it away when we are finished with it. We hope this will solve the problem. On the subject of electricity, the generator which our power was running for five hours this week. The actual generator is in the "lean-to" not in our living space. Well, after five hours, there was a melt-down in the "lean-to" from the heat that the generator made.

The ice berg that broke off during Margie's song is stuck on rocks about 4 kilometres to the east of the hut. (See 'Can a Song Create an Iceberg,' 27 April's journal.) It is really big and spectacular. It will be very interesting to see if it does manage to head on out to sea or whether it will remain grounded for the rest of the year.

The soggy mattress that I wrote about last week has finally been dried and put into plastic bags. It was quite a scene in here when we were drying it and the sleeping bags. We couldn't hang the mattress up so we wound up standing around while it dried. It took hours. We lost the cuff of a thermal top this week. We were drying it above the heater and it melted! It turned solid and we had to cut it off. We had our bath on Tuesday. We've settled into a routine. Margie has a bath once a week and I have a bath every two weeks. I think it is fine! UFO'S IN AUSTRALIA We have been hearing about the east coast of Australia sighting UFO's this week. It was quite weird thinking about 'them' coming down to Antarctica. It is a very lonely place down here. Margie is getting very homesick. I am trying to cheer her up but only two hundred and sixty more days doesn't sound very cheery. Sighting a UFO would give us something interesting to talk about.

Keep warm,
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