Thanks to the fearless efforts of a small, but dedicated, band of apprentice-scientists drawn from the ranks of the 68th ANARE the wheels of science are still turning here at Casey station. Anxious to prove that we're not just about growing huge and entertaining beards at government expense, a number of our group have been taking it in turns to collect water samples from the FOCE dive site which currently lies beneath sea ice in O’Brien’s bay. The wheels turn pretty slowly, at times, but nonetheless they're in motion thanks to resident sparkie, environment officer and chief sampling coordinator Benny. Thanks to his unbridled enthusiasm some of us have donned the responsibility, as well as the borrowed white coats, of our temporarily absent friends while they're doing their stuff a little further north.
Samples are collected through a hole drilled in the ice and returned to the lab where they’re treated, logged and stored pending the arrival of people who actually know what they’re doing with all this stuff. In the meantime it’s pleasing to know that the raw materials of our future knowledge are being stored-up for future decoding.
The trip out is well worth the effort and part of our reward is knowing we're supporting the program our summer colleagues started when the sun was high in the sky and the winds didn’t blow quite so hard.
Our trips occasionally come with the added reward of the inevitable sprinkling of humour. “Step up Uncle Rob. Or should I say step in Uncle Rob?” — he proved he doesn’t always need a ute to become bogged. He can become stuck using just his own two feet. “Honestly station leader, it was a really, really small hole, only just big enough to dip your toe in and it was the only open water between us and the horizon.” Evidence, if indeed it were required, that not all dipsticks are difficult to locate in the hole.