So there I was, riding on the bow of an orange zodiac, holding onto the side with all my might, racing toward the mountainous shore of a fjord. I was wearing a drysuit, but the sea still managed to sting my face with frigid saltwater every few minutes. I was happy.
My group landed on a pebble-covered beach between two rocky hills. Above the high tide line, chunks of ice the size of milk crates were haphazardly strewn about. We were surrounded by steep terrain, so after emptying the boat of all our gear, we half-loaded the polar bear rifle. Just in case. I threw a metal quadrat frame over my shoulder, adjusted the neckline of my drysuit, and followed the group leader up and over one of the cliffs.
|Sampling in the Kongsfjorden intertidal. Photo by Adrian Pop.|
Making our way back over the marble island, we found one more spot to sample. I wasn’t the deepest-standing one this time, but I still took my fair share of waves. When it came time to measure the width of the intertidal, I scooted as far down the slope as I dared, flung the end of the transect tape toward the nearest kelp, and yelled at my partners up-slope to measure quickly. I heard an “OK!” from behind me, pulled up the tape, and gathered my feet, just as a wave washed over my lap.
So there I was, gear in a pile, sampling complete, sipping warm water on the pebble beach and silently thanking the man who invented drysuits. We watched as the boat driver made circles in the fjord and his two remaining passengers fiddled with gear. We had some time, so we donned hoods, gloves, masks, and flippers, and decided to go for a snorkel.
|Taking a break on the icy beach. Photo by Adrian Pop.|
So there I was, feeling like a soggy marshmallow woman, embracing the wind on my face and the taste of salt in my mouth. As we approached the ship, we disturbed a flock of fulmars, and they flew all around and above our boat. Then we drew closer, and we could see the faint line of a fishing pole protruding from the side of the hull. Yes, another scientist was fishing, and I couldn't help but smile at his chosen pastime. Life is good at 79° N.