Thanks to the arrival of a new team member (welcome Justin!), we had the opportunity this week to revisit our first two dive sites. Although it feels like eons since we’ve been there, it’s only been about two months since these sites saw Rowan and I do our first dives under the ice. It felt like coming home and we were excited to show Justin around as he got comfortable with the under ice world.
Since we were focusing on getting Justin (our team videographer) acquainted, we all took down our cameras to capture still imagery while doing a tour of the Dayton’s Wall dive site. After a whole lot of science task diving at Cinder Cones and Turtle Rock, I had forgotten how much darker Dayton’s Wall was and how much there was to photograph. I started off the dive taking pictures of all the spectacular creatures I had missed having the chance to admire. Ruffly nudibranchs and galaxy-eyed fish. We even had a seal visitor off in the distance.
As we headed upslope and into the expanse of 10-foot tall sea ice crack paradise that is the shallows of Dayton’s Wall, I did my best to capture the stunning scene before me. Rowan and Justin were up ahead, illuminating the isparkling ce around them with their cameras. Two silhouettes against a glowing icy backdrop, fringed by the darkness of the deep blue waters beyond.
The sites in McMurdo’s front yard are my favorite of the four. Sure, there may be no breathtaking 1-2 hour commute along the sea ice, and you don’t feel quite as tough and rugged diving out of a cozy heated hut as you do diving out of a chilly dive apple on the sea ice, but their beauty cannot be understated. When we tell people on station about the world below the ice right outside of town, or show our dive tenders videos, they’re always surprised. Surprised that a colorful, lively world like this exists at all beyond the endless white, and surprised that some of the most beautiful sites are those right below the orange dive huts they can see from town.
As we near the two week mark before our departures, I’m doing my best to soak it all in. It’s hard to imagine leaving this world behind, but I look forward to sharing our next two weeks of appreciation with you!