Environment Forum

Icebergs, penguins and pyjamas

Icebergs, penguins and pyjamas

I awoke today Dec 8 at 5.40 a.m. to an unfamiliar sound – l’Astrolabe crunching her way through sheets of ice. After days of wild seas the ship’s progress has slowed as she makes her way through the floating ice.

After months of anticipation, I sat up in my bunk and peered out through the cabin port hole to see icebergs, it’s an amazing feeling!

I rushed onto deck, wearing a polar jacket and my pyjamas tucked into my polar boots. As far as the eye could see there were large chunks of floating ice.

I spotted a baby penguin on the ice but as soon as the ship neared, or was it my purple pyjamas, it dived into the icy water and disappeared.

Large Antarctic icebergs have been spotted floating north past Macquarie Island in the Southern Ocean in recent weeks as global warming melts the southern ice continent.

Snow, Gales and Merlot

Snow is falling on l’Astrolabe, which is being hit by gale-force winds up to 45 knots an hour, while westerly swells pound with four-metre waves and southerly swells hit with two-metre waves.

Pauline AskinWe have been sailing for five days and are about 58 degrees South on our voyage to Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica.

Filing this blog is a perilous experience. Last night, expedition leader Tony Stewart ventured out onto the deck to help me file.

Icebergs, Copenhagen hot topics in Southern Ocean

The Southern Ocean is toying with us, like some killer whale tossing its prey before devouring it.

The small French research ship l’Astrolabe is being battered by 55 kmh (35 mph) winds and tossed like a cork in icy, three metre (9 feet) waves.

Pauline Askin
Many onboard have retreated to the safety of their bunks where, with the help of medication, they are trying to stave off seasickness. My cabin is beside the kitchen, so the strong smells don’t help.

Sailing into an icy cauldron

AUSTRALIA/Reuters employee Pauline Askin has sailed for the Antarctic for a six -week expedition  on the icy continent where she will help restore Mawson’s huts named after Australia’s most celebrated Antarctic explorer on Commonwealth Bay, the windiest place on earth.

During the expedition, Pauline will report on topics ranging from climate change and the environment to tourism and Christmas celebrations in Antarctica.

You can follow Pauline’s experiences in one of the harshest environments on Earth in this blog.

A historic trip to Antarctica revisited

First, a bit of Reuters history:

Reuters links with Sir Douglas Mawson, Australia’s most celebrated Antarctic explorer, began in 1911 when the company helped finance the young explorer’s maiden voyage to Antarctica.

In 1911, the Reuters Telegram Company Ltd sent a hand written telegram confirming it had pledged 1,000 pounds to the Australasian Antarctic Expedition lead by Mawson (see picture above.)

The significance of Mawson’s expedition was that it was largely financed and led from Australia, which as a nation was little more than 10 years old. East Antarctica, the greater mass of the Antarctic continent that lies south of Australia, the Indian Ocean and Africa, was one of the least-explored parts of the ice continent.