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                         Mairi Nicolsons Antarctica Index

Friday 20 July

Hello

I have to write today and tell you about my first ice dive in South cove.  The sea ice is now over fifteen centimeters thick and Phil our dive officer has been out with the chainsaw cutting several holes for the dive team.  The marine biologists have a very busy dive schedule but sometimes there are gaps in the program that allow other qualified divers to have a go.   I was so excited this morning and couldnít wait to get going.  My first dives were from the boat so I was very excited, and of course a little nervous, at the prospect of diving through an ice hole.   We keep warm by wearing a thermal suit and a special diving dry suit, with hood, gloves and mask.   The only bit of flesh actually touching the water is your lips and you never really notice the cold on them.   For safety reasons we are both attached to a rope that the shore supervisors anchor and control throughout the dive.  As well as a guide, the rope is used to communicate with the shore party, by using different sequences of pulls. After much preparation and organisation we finally made it into the water and it was breathtaking. The ice had formed some weird and wonderful shapes and it was teeming with life.  The colours that you see underwater make a lovely change from the whiteness of the base.  Itís back to work now, and itís time again for the monthly safety checks and equipment servicing.  That should bring me back down to earth after the excitement of this mornings adventures.

Have a nice weekend, lots of love

Mairi