Ahoy from the Southern Ocean! My name is William Farris and I am a lab technician for Dr. Kevin Kocot at the University of Alabama! I recently graduated from Bama with a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Science/Biology. Through the people I met at Bama, I have been given a whole plethora of incredible opportunities and experiences, including the chance to be on the NBP 23-03 research cruise. I was born and raised in Louisiana (shout out to Grant Parish) and, as I’m sure you can imagine, didn’t see much snow growing up. Last time I saw snow was January 11th, 2021 (which just so happened to be the day the Alabama Crimson Tide won their 18th national football title). It has been very jarring to go from back home in the Southeastern US to the continental waters of Antarctica. Back home, any temperature below 60 Fahrenheit is pants and jacket weather, often consisting of multiple layers. Here, we are lucky to have the wind chill be above 24 Fahrenheit.
As I mentioned earlier, I haven’t seen snow in over two years and now it snows every other day. I have never seen a lake frozen over, and now we see miles of water that is nothing but ice and snow. If we let water sit out too long on the deck as we are working, it becomes pure slush. I have gotten water inside my rubber gloves on several occasions and have to shut down what I’m working on until I get dry or else my hand locks up. Everything here feels so alien and unnatural when compared to what I’ve experienced before. A couple of nights ago I made what was likely the 6th snow angel I have ever made in my life, and threw snowballs at friends for the first time in over 10 years. I don’t even CONSIDER going outside without at least 3 layers of clothing between me and the outside world. Needless to say, I’ve experienced weather unlike anything I’ve seen before. The wind chill was around -22 Fahrenheit a few days ago and I shiver at the thought of it. The wind chill is so cold that the water temp (~29 Fahrenheit) is actually warmer than the surface, which is something I never would have anticipated saying. For the first time in my life, I actually miss the Louisiana heat. The trip is great, but I can’t help imagining eating some fried boudin on a muggy Louisiana summer night.