NG Emerging Explorer Jørn Hurum is currently on Spitsbergen Island in the Arctic Circle excavating the remains of ancient marine reptiles worthy of the most fantastic Norse legends. Follow the expedition here on Explorers Journal through updates from him and his team, and catch up on his previous expedition for more.
By Erik Tunstad
From bad to worse.
Thursday night was mud hell in Britney the Plesiosaur’s dig site. In the course of the day today – Friday – hell has expanded to include the whole area.
Even the mess tent.
The girls got to know it first, when they sledged down from Britney on Thursday night; Even in the toughest outfit, you can get wet to the skin.
The elderly among us, put it down to youthful mindlessness.
Now we all suffer.
For years, I have dreamed about building my own indoor rain forest in the garden. Now I have found a cheap solution. The inside of the storage tent looks like a scene from the Amazon – except that the lianas are exchanged for steaming wet or dripping supposedly waterproof outfits, labeled Øglegraverne 2010.
The air humidity is also much the same. Which leaves the detail of temperature.
You can say the same about the neighboring tent, the mess tent, where I now sit – early Saturday morning – rewriting yesterday’s sketches. I spend more time drying off condensation than writing. It’s dripping – no; pouring – from the ceiling. The clothes stick to the skin. It’s cold, nasty and wet, wet, wet.
So, if Britney was “dirty” yesterday – today she was worse (and I’m now back on Friday again). It was hard to stand upright, the perma-mud was slippery, the boots were turned into clumps of concrete – which turned our gait into some kind of trendy walking.
The expedition, on the other hand, is more vital than ever. A little mud doesn’t break us down, and we are now, mentally, in some sort of pre-sprint condition. Jørn has control of the situation. We already have claimed enough prizes to justify the whole trip. On top of that, we have opened a series of new finds, evaluated them, and found them to be wanting. There is just not enough time. We already have Britney, the plesiosaur far west up on the mountainside, the grand hope for a skull.
We also have Bunny, the plesiosaur I started on – on Sunday? And we have have Black Beauty, the ichthyosaur Victoria and Aubrey have entertained and sung about for the past few days. This is the specimen I sort of presented as a disappointment. But in this line of work, anything can change. The girls uncovered a beautiful backbone – and the big job of the evening was to transform the three meter long animal to three stone blocks encapsulated in plaster for easier and safer helicopter transport to bring it back to the lab for final cleaning.
A job like this needs manpower, and most of the team spent the evening with Black Beauty digging, plastering, sawing, hauling, lifting and last but not least digging some more. When we were done a little past midnight, you needed a trained eye to see where the mud people had practiced their strange rituals, just a few hours earlier.
Now it was just a beautiful, tidy, and freshly raked mountainside – with three white plaster lumps, each a few hundred kilos a piece: helicopter food.
Read More From the Expedition