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August 22, 2006

We have been welcomed aboard the icebreaker by the captain, his crew and the chief scientist. While on the ship we will be on Russian time, which is two hours ahead of Norwegian time, making it eight hours ahead of Eastern Standard time.

lifeboat drillI am typing this at 23:00. I awoke at 05:00, but managed to drift back to sleep until 08:00 when the breakfast call went out on the loudspeaker. The food has been great thus far (more on that in a later posting). Our primary topic today was the safety overview. We heard from several of the crew about life aboard ship and how to stay safe. Victoria is a translator for the Russian crew and does a great job of explaining the issues. Perhaps we will learn a bit of Russian before this trip is over. A primary safety issue is the rolling of the ship, so they advise using a three point system while moving about — keep both feet on the ground and one hand braced against a wall or other object. The seas have been very calm, but we know that can change at anytime. After the safety lectures we put on life vests and had a lifeboat drill.

Northern FulmarI finally spent some time on deck looking for birds and other wildlife. We eventually got a quick glimpse of a cetacean. Some thought it to be a Minke Whale, but it was so quick we could not be sure. Birds continue to follow the ship. Northern Fulmars are most abundant, but we have also seen Pomarine Skua and Guillemots.

Many of the seabirds have interesting adaptations for life at sea. The tubenoses (petrels, fulmars, shearwaters and albatrosses) have long tubes enclosing their nostrils. Through these tubes they excrete the salt they take in from drinking seawater. The salt is removed from the bloodstream by two large glands located at the base of the bill.

Now that we have been introduced to the crew and facility, we hope our e-mails will be easier to send. Today has been a gray and cold day, but we look forward to tomorrow and what it may bring.

—Mike Dunn


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Kapitan Dranitsyn