Congratulations to our graduates, Iain and Michelle! Both URI biology students missed graduation today to be here in Antarctica.
We decided throw our own graduation! Iain and Michelle were lured to their surprise Antarctic graduation with a “safety meeting on the bow.” There, on the snowy bow of the Palmer, we donned them with white graduation gowns and snowflake-tassled grad caps. The air was filled with ceremonious music (the well-known “graduation march”) when Iain and Michelle accepted their official-looking School of the Antarctic diplomas. It was snowing, of course.
After our snowy bow graduation, the festivities continued with a liquid nitrogen ice cream party in the galley, decorated with banners and the URI blue-and-white. Our at-sea tech Julian stirred up a concoction of cream, sugar, coffee syrup, and chocolate milk into large metal bowls. Iain and Michelle stirred vigorously as liquid nitrogen was poured into the mixture, making two delicious vats of ice cream to be enjoyed by the whole ship.
Graduation day excitement didn’t end here–amidst net tows and sediment sampling, camera deployments and experiment setup, it seemed as if each scientific task of the day was interrupted with a can’t-be-missed wildlife siting. As we deployed our sediment sampler, three humpback whales circled the ship. For about two hours, our friends made a continuous loop around the ship, popping up their heads so close we could almost smell their breath and feel their spray on our faces.
We passed by a plump seal, feet away from the ship, taking a nap on a ice berg that looked like a large seal sofa–our presence didn’t wake him from his sleep. Who knew ice bergs could be so comfy!
So, all-in-all, a wonderful day to celebrate the great achievements of Iain and Michelle. Happy Graduation! To future adventures!