Saturday 26 January 2008 à 17:36

Awarding certificates

Par Sophie Mouge. Correspondent aboard the Aurora Australis

This morning, many of us wake to the sound of a thundering announcement: “Good morning to all expeditioneers! As you know, today is Australia Day. You are invited to the traditional Devonshire Tea in the mess at 10:00!”

Devonshire Tea? For the celebration of Australia’s national holiday, we enjoy tea accompanied by scones instead of the traditional barbecue on the trawl deck.

On this occasion, at last Martin awards us our certificates for crossing the polar circle, so dearly won several weeks ago (see blog of December 20)! He calls us up one by one, and thanks us for the first-rate accomplishment of this scientific mission, adding a gratifying personal word for each of us.

In the mess, awarding the certificates for crossing the polar circle.

Marc proudly unfurls his certificate of passage, signed by the god Neptune himself!

Finally the last tidying up! We give up our polar clothes that the Antarctic Australian Division lent us at the beginning of the campaign. We deposit them in containers that will go to Kingston without us. We straighten and vacuum our cabins. We clean our washroom. Everything is tidy before the 15h30 inspection.

Last photo of the group for the French team.

When the inspection is over and our last dinner on board eaten, the entire French team gathers behind the bridge for one last photo of the group. Note the significant relaxation of the outfits we are wearing. Yes, we have left the icebergs and penguins behind us for good. The air temperature is higher than +15°C. Some expeditioneers profit from the warm sun, lounging on the helideck. No possible doubt now: it’s summertime!

Everybody goes to bed unusually early: we have to be ready tomorrow at 7h00 for the many formalities that precede our debarking on Australian soil. Martin tells us that all our baggage will be closely inspected by the Quarantine Officers. These agents and their dogs monitor the entry into Australian territory of biological specimens (animals, plants, seeds, etc.) and specimens of biological origin (assorted foodstuffs, for example), in order to protect the ecosystems from any biological invasion or epidemic that could harm the unique biodiversity of Australia. Fortunately, the specimens collected on the CEAMARC campaign are in transit in the port of Hobart before being conveyed to France. In other words, these specimens will remain in the free zone and thus not require a permit.

Goodbye, Antarctica…



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