Monday, May 13, 2019

Crossing the Antarctic Circle in gumby suits... and ketchup! - by Melissa M.

You are hereby commanded to appear before the


because it has been brought to the attention of


through their trusty Red Noses, that the good ship Thompson is about to enter those waters manned by a crew who has not acknowledged the sovereignty of the Rulers of the Deep, has transgressed on his domain and thereby incurred his Royal displeasure.

King Neptune.. or Manuel

King Neptune and Queen Neptunia (isa) explain the rules

Crossing ceremonies are one tradition that have survived over centuries of maritime travel. We aboard the R/V Thompson crossed the Antarctic Circle (66 degrees South latitude) and celebrated passing into so-called Realm of the Penguin. As someone who participates in scientific expeditions, it's easy to pretend to be an explorer from the old days, sailing the seas in pursuit of knowledge. Thankfully rules like no women allowed and flogging aren't around anymore, though I wouldn't mind the grog.

Not every ship or science party celebrates crossing these invisible lines, but it's always fun when you do. Everyone is eligible for a certificate proclaiming them a Red Nose, though participating in the ceremony itself was optional. Much of the science party and a few crew members partook. As someone who has already been south of 66 (twice, in fact), I helped welcome our newest members.

Those who had never ventured into the Antarctic Circle were declared 'icy wogs' and told to prepare an animal costume and short skit. Co-Chief Scientist Isa and pH analyst Manuel were the ring-leaders, portraying Queen Neptunia and King Neptune during the events.
Limbo in gumby suits for Loicka

Since we crossed during the transit south to our first science station, we were able to set aside time for a good show. First, the wogs had to don their survival suits and complete a series of tasks. Commonly referred to as Gumby suits due to their shape, it's hard to be dexterous inside of one - your fingers are forced into 2 or 3 pockets so using a screwdriver or tying a knot is difficult. We then put on some music and the wogs played limbo, which was a very amusing sight and led to a lot of laughs.

Then everyone had to change into their costumes, after properly stowing their survivial suits of course. Given that they only had 24 hours notice, I was impressed with the quality of everyone's presentations. Second mate Ben dressed as a narwhal, complete with wooden horn that he machined into the right shape. A group of crew and scientists dressed as penguins and leopard seals for their skit, and the rest of the wogs re-wrote the lyrics to 'Bohemian Rhapsody' (sample verses below). It's right up there with my greatest memories at sea, the sight of a line of young scientists singing while dressed as animals from a turtle to a lobster to a sea cow.
Mark bows at the King

Is this the real life?

Is this just fanta-sea?

Caught in a maelstrom

No escape from these heaving seas

Open your eyes

Look out to the skies and sea

I'm just a student, I watch the CTD

Because I'm easy come, easy go

Little high, little low

Any way the waves go, doesn't really matter to me

To me…

Easy come, easy go will you let me go

Al-e-jan-dro, you will not let you go (let him go!)

Is-bell-a, we will not let you go (let me go!)

Po-sei-don, we will not let you go (let me go!)

Will not let you go (let me go!)

Will not let you go

Let me gooooooooooo no no no no no no no

Oh mamma mia, mamma mia, mamma mia let me go

Davy Jones has a devil put aside for me, for me, FOR MEEEEEEEEEEEE

And my favorite line :

(Max only) (whale noises)

Giuliana bows at the Queen to receive her red nose

Each wog then had to present themselves to the king and queen, some bowed more formally than others (see photo of CFC analyst Mark, who really got into it). They then dipped their noses into a bowl of ketchup and were declared a Red Nose. We applauded the new members, tidied up the lab, and got ready to start science!

Mark as a new Red Nose


  1. I could sing that in my head perfectly!!! Thanks for sharing
    Who was the baby :)

    Also send Sea-Bird deployment photos my way and we can share them on our social media sites. Miss you ISA!

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