Image courtesy of S.E. Walker

From: Sally Walker
Explorers Cove Field Camp, New Harbor, McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, October 25, 2008

Meet Our Ice Divers

You have not lived until you have met an Antarctic ice diver!† These are polar-adapted and highly-trained underwater explorers that can stand penetratingly cold, blood-freezing conditions below a solid ceiling of ice.†† We are honored to have four astounding ice divers on our team - (from left to right) Cecil Shin, Steve Clabuesch, Shawn Harper, and Henry Kaiser.† They not only keep our camp functioning, but they also help us plan field ops, design experimental arrays, deploy our experiments, and take exquisitely beautiful underwater video and photographs.† Henry is an amazing cinematographer and a talented Thai cook. Shawn is a scientifically-trained polar photographer with some of the biggest underwater cameras that I have seen on Earth.† Steve also takes emotively beautiful underwater photographs, and keeps the entire dive operation organized.† Cecil keeps details on the extensive dives, and makes sure our gear is ready for deployment.

It takes them a very long time it to prepare for a dive because of the cold conditions. Shawn and Henry lovingly clean and maintain their cameras and video systems for hours.† Suiting up in dry scuba suits takes almost two hours, and then the dive only lasts for approximately 30 minutes!† They all wear at least four layers of clothes, but it is all worth it when they view the underwater miracle that Antarcticaís clear water gives them. Once they return to the surface, it takes them yet another two hours just to clean and dry their equipment!† And, when they return to camp, I have never seen such ravenous creatures in my life, ready for dinner!†

About Sam Bowser's Underwater Antarctic Research

Diving Under Antarctic Ice

Shawn Harper's Underwater Photographs

Go to the next postcard

Postcards from the Field: Polar Fossil Mysteries

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more


Antarctica is unique. It is the coldest, windiest, and driest continent on Earth. The land is barren and mostly covered with a thick sheet of ice. Antarctica is almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle...more

Christchurch, New Zealand

Landing in Christchurch, New Zealand, one of the world's windiest airports, is unforgettable. Snowcapped Southern Alps, braided streams criss-cross the landscape amidst a patchwork quilt of green pastures,...more

Clothing Distribution Center, United States Antarctic Program

I live near Atlanta, Georgia, where "CDC" means the Center for Disease Control. In Christchurch, "CDC" means the Clothing Distribution Center for the United States Antarctic Program. At this Center, workers...more

Boarding U.S. Airforce C-17 Globemaster III

Finally the fax arrived that weather conditions in Antarctica had improved dramatically, and our flight was scheduled for noon on October 10. On that day, we hurried to the CDC, donned our Extreme Cold...more

Flight over Southern Ocean

With the brakes retooled, we were finally ready for take off in the C-17. Take off was amazing, despite all the noise generated by the massive engines (we had to wear ear plugs or headphones): I was pushed...more

Arrival on Ross Island, Antarctica

About an hour before we were scheduled to land, we started descending and the weather was clear. We next spotted the snow-and-ice covered Transantarctic Mountains (TAM), and our spirits lifted: we were...more

McMurdo Station, Ross Island, Antarctica

McMurdo Station in Antarctica gives one the impression of an impermanent, transient establishment nestled at the base of volcanic cinder cones, an isolated ice civilization at the edge of the unknown....more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA