Quartermaster/Rescue Swimmer, Bob Barker
The morning alarm sounds and I fumble around to try and find it somewhere hidden between the many layers of my Antarctic bedding. This particular morning, I can’t find it. After a minute of frustration, I pop my head over the side of the bunk to see if I’ve stirred any of the other girls in the cabin. “Sorry,” I whisper. I can’t see a thing - it’s pitch black in the 'Hen-Den,' not a shred of light penetrates three decks below, and not a lot of fresh air for that matter.
I turn on my bed light and look around the cabin to check the status of my roomies; there is not a lot of movement. Sharing a cabin with five girls for four solid months could resemble something of a nightmare, but the acceptance of the little privacy and constant noise becomes the norm, and only leaves room for laughs.
I finally locate my alarm in the bed, wedged annoyingly in the corner of the duvet cover. The morning then starts out like any other. I lie in snooze-button position on my back for 10 minutes, listening to Rosie rummage around the cabin, only slowing pace to open the bathroom door which is located 15 centimetres from my head (Rosie admits she still wakes up at 5 am, thinking she has to get up and walk her two English bulldogs before the rise of the hot South African sun). ”Morning Feeeeee,” she says in her cheery voice as I stick out a few fingers lethargically in an attempt to wave. She’s one of those “morning-people,” something that I’ve convinced myself is part of one’s genetic makeup and unlikely for me to suddenly acquire.
Celeste’s awakening is like ground-dog day and always a source of amusement. Her makeshift curtain is pulled back at 7:25 a.m., her shaggy bed-head slowly emerging from the pillow and her eyes squinting, depicting utter confusion about her whereabouts. “Hey…,” she says, and her head abruptly crashes down again on the pillow.
Getting dressed is incredibly simple on the ship. My alarm snooze time used to be consumed conjuring up what corporate fashion combinations would be appropriate for the day, but now the time can be spent thinking about how to coordinate people to preserve the oceans, or…nothingness. I throw on my jeans, boots, and my three stock-standard winter thermal tops, which I have realised can be swiftly applied in one efficient motion to get instant warmth. Shower day is tomorrow, yay!
The lovely sunlight hits my face as I open the door to the bridge. By 7:55 a.m. the captain has downed his first coffee and is in a jovial mood. I rest my elbows on the chart table and flip through the logbook. It’s been five days and no one from any of the other watches has seen a single whale, let alone a blue whale. Sadly - 30,000 blue whales were killed in Antarctica between 1929-30, and now we are ‘fishing down the food web’ and targeting the smaller of the species, the Minke whale… the EXACT practice of what we are doing to most world fisheries. So backwards, it’s embarrassing.
I step out onto the bridge wing and start thinking about Japan. My brother had a very strong affiliation with Japan and learned the language by age 16. I really feel that Japan will have an ‘Ah-ha!” moment and will see the bigger picture: life on this planet as we know it depends on a very healthy ocean. We need to stop sucking life out of the ocean, and we need to start with the whale.
p.s. Japan, the world will rejoice with you if you abort your plans to slaughter whales in the Pacific this June, thank you. Fiona.