Under Pressure

For the last six weeks or so, the McMurdo recreation department has been organizing tours of the pressure ridges near Scott Base, the tiny New Zealand research station about two miles down the road from McMurdo.

Pressure ridges are these tall, jagged vertical ridges of ice that form where the Ross Ice Shelf and the sea ice push together. For Madison folks, they are like a much larger version of the ice ridges that form on the shores of Lake Monona and Mendota most winters.

Anyone who has taken the Outdoor Safety Lecture can sign up to go on a tour of the pressure ridges. You sign up in advance, wear your Extreme Cold Weather (ECW) gear, and pile into a shuttle bus that takes you to Scott Base, where a guide will take you and a dozen or so other folks out onto the sea ice.

The tours are a nice way to get out of town, see more Antarctica nature, and take lots and lots of seal pictures! There are a lot of Weddell seals around McMurdo and Scott Base, and I’ve seen several seal pups.

My camera isn’t very good quality, so I don’t have any good close-up seal pictures. Note to self: Bring a good camera next year!





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