Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Happy Memorial Day!

May 30th 2011

To celebrate Memorial Day, today’s blog is a selection of one-line reactions from many of our science party to the things they have seen and experienced thus far on this expedition.

“So many amazing experiences, trawls, dredges, and multibeam. Oh my!”

“A terrific selection of dedicated scientists, and they are slightly mad, enthusiastic and great fun too (plus penguins, fur seals and pack ice); who could ask for more from an expedition?”


“Twist’a’thon Drake Passage Style!”

“Steep learning curve – incredible research experience”

“You’ve been sorting trawled material for too long when you search through your meals in anticipation of finding animals”

“An eclectic mix of exciting science and interesting people, in dramatic and beautiful surroundings”

“Antarctica – exciting science, amazing people, fulfilled dreams”

“It feels like a different world out here, with an enthusiastic crew dedicated to a singular goal: corals, corals, corals!”

“Never a dull day with this group and hoping for some more fun times in the future!”

“So far, the new multibeam data we have collected has changed my interpretation of the geology of Burdwood Bank, confirmed what I knew about the Shackleton Fracture Zone, and given me new insight into the morphology of the Antarctic Shelf – not bad for two and a half weeks!”

“Incredible/hard work/excellent – couldn´t be better/awesome, unbelievable!!!”

“Absolutely brilliant cruise – unique sights, stellar science, outstanding people!”

“The taste of salty water from hosing off West Antarctic Peninsula shelf mud while sorting corals on deck evoked nostalgia and confusion because I am not at the beach.”

“The Drake Lake, twister, buckets of coral, baby coral, more coral, sea creatures, sauna, cake….all I need is another tube of toothpaste and a pair of slippers to make this an excellent trip.”
(P.S….we found Suzy a tube of toothpaste in case her mum is worried…..)

“Awesome science party – hard working, fun loving, data gathering machines!”

“Phew, it’s all working, everyone is happy and we are doing tons of science – perfect…”

Weather: temperature 37 °F, windchill 14 °F, windspeed 20-30 knots, sunny with light cloud 

Laura, Skip and Rhian (M. Brugler)
Mariana, Chris and Mercer (A. Margolin).
Sebastian and primnoid friend (A. Margolin).

Ben (A. Margolin).
Kate and Mariana playing Twister (A. Margolin).
John, David, Eric, Andrea and Shannon on deck (A. Margolin).
David and Suzy (A. Margolin).
Michelle (R. Waller).
Kais and fruit (M. Taylor).
Stian testing a dredge model, watched by Kathy (R. Waller).
Melissa doing some arts and crafts (R. Waller).
Laura, Skip, Andrew, and Bruce the Shark (S. Jennions).

The things you don’t learn in classrooms

May 29th

On the Drake Passage Expedition, we use a variety of equipments, including tow- and drop-cams to get images from the seafloor (see Rhian’s post), and the CTD to get samples from the water column (see Tina’s post). Specimens, alive and fossil, organic and inorganic, are sampled using trawls and dredges. While this relatively simple equipment has been used since the infancy of deep-sea science, it is reliable, efficient, and can be deployed in a variety of situations from different types of research vessels. While the trawl works very well on soft substrates, the dredge is well adapted to sampling on rugged terrain (for example, on the summit and slope of a seamount). The dredge is also safer to use when we don’t know exactly what the area is like, and it is the instrument that we tend to use the most. During a typical operation, the dredge is dropped straight to the bottom, and after giving the wire some slack, the boat slowly advances in a straight line, paying wire at the same time. After about 30 minutes, the boat stops, and we slowly pull the dredge back in. This is when the sampling of the sea floor happens, and when we have to be particularly vigilant. While being pulled, the dredge might be caught on some feature (e.g. boulder). If the dredge does not continue its course, something will eventually break, and we might lose our precious equipment. The entire dredging operation can last from about an hour to an entire day, depending on the depth at which we sample.

Us deep-sea biologists in-training need to know how and when to use the different tools available, yet this is not the kind of knowledge that we get from the classroom. Here, we learn by doing, and we are very lucky to have chief scientists that make sure that everyone on the science team gets a chance to learn some about everything.

A few days ago, Rhian let me “run my first dredge.” In the dry lab, I face a wall of flat screens displaying information (among other things) on the ship course, and information on the winch, the hauling device that connects us to the dredge. Once the dredge is laid on the seafloor, we radio the winch room to start paying out wire at 30 m/min, and the bridge to keep the boat advancing at the same speed, so the wire can be neatly laid on the seafloor behind us. Once our transect is laid out, it’s time to sample some corals. “Winch room, winch room – dry lab. Please start hauling in at one zero.” I watch the tension of the cable: we don’t want to lose the dredge to a big boulder. The tension of the cable is expected to vary between 2,000 and 5,000 pounds; above that: the cable is under significant tension and we might have to stop the winch. A few minutes pass by. Tension is stable under 5,000 pounds. Michelle brings us some cobbler. Woohoo! Peach! Cable tension spikes. Eric’s blood pressure too. It’s alright, says Rhian. We probably hit a rock. Enjoying the cobbler. Tension spikes. 7,500. Ok – no more cobbler... All eyes on monitors. Tension spikes again to 9,200 pounds. We get concerned, because the safety ring that links cable and dredge is designed to snap at 9,000 pounds… We might be dragging the dredge by one side only! Tension is low again… and spikes to 11,400! We must be sampling on very rugged terrain! This is nerve-racking… Have we lost the equipment? At the end of our transect we haul the wire back in, hoping that the dredge is still attached. On the freezing deck, we are burning of anticipation. The water surface bubbles… The dredge comes out in one piece! It is full of rocks and specimens!

By Eric

Weather: temperature 41 ºF, windchill 12 ºF, windspeed 20-40 knots, cloudy, relatively big seas

Eric running a dredge. Whoever is driving the dredge has to keep in close radio contact with the winch operator and the bridge (R. Waller).

Mark and Michelle pointing out organisms growing on a rock brought up by the first dredge Michelle has run (R. Waller).

Kate, Sandy and Skip clean out the dredge, ready for another deployment (A. Margolin).

Watching the weather is an important part of being at sea and deciding when we can deploy and when we need to just wait it out. The last two days we’ve had some occasional wild weather, so have had to use the calm weather windows to deploy dredges and cameras, and otherwise just work inside and wait for the winds and waves to calm. (R. Waller).

Working inside means lots of prepping, processing and packing samples! This fossil coral is a Caryophyllia antarctica cup coral collected from Interim Seamount, and will be used for paleoclimate reconstruction. (A. Margolin).

Glassy sponges in the Southern Ocean

May 28th

My name is Kate, and I’m a postdoctoral researcher at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. I was on the 2008 cruise with Laura and Rhian, which happened a mere month or so after I finished my PhD. Although it’s always difficult to be away from my family and friends (especially as I got married in January this year!), I’m really excited to have such a wonderful opportunity to return to the ARV N.B. Palmer with a few years more experience. In fact, when I walked on the ship on the first day, the smell of the labs and the decks brought it all back to me. I felt as if I had never left.

On the cruise, I’m here to collect deep-sea sponges, as well as help out the paleoceanography and biology teams with all the other science going on. My work involves using the chemistry of deep-sea sponge skeletons to tell us about past ocean chemistry. Sponges make their skeletons from glassy needles, called spicules. I collected sponges on the last cruise, in 2008, and found that the chemistry of these spicules relates to the amount of nutrients in the water in which they grew. This means that the fossil skeletons, picked out of deep-sea sediment cores, can be used to reconstruct past nutrient levels in deep waters. It’s these nutrients that upwell to the surface and are essential for the growth of algae, which take up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Understanding how their supply of food has changed in the past is really important for understanding the role that algae play in changes in greenhouse gases and climate. It’s really exciting to be carrying out such novel work, but a lot more studying needs to be done to understand thoroughly what is going on, and why spicule chemistry behaves this way. This trip I’ll be collecting more sponges, and sediments that contain fossil spicules, to start piecing together more about what controls sponge chemistry, and how seawater nutrients have changed in the past.

And I’m also helping to organize this blog every day! I helped with the website we ran on the last cruise, and enjoyed it so much I was really keen to get involved again. I hope you’re enjoying them!

At the moment, we’re transiting to Sars Seamount in the middle of the Drake Passage. It’s only about 100 nautical miles from Interim Seamount, but we’ve also been having some rather bad weather so we can only go very slowly. I’m particularly excited about getting to Sars, however, because last time we were there in 2008 it proved itself to be “sponge wonderland”. Not only did we collect some fantastic corals, but we also found the mother lode of sponges. Let’s see what we can find this time around…

By Kate

Weather: temperature 39°F, windchill 14°F, windspeed 50-60 knots decreasing to 20-30 knots; sunny!

The glassy spicules of a hexactinellid sponge taken under the microscope (100 times magnification). The chemistry of the spicules tells us something about the nutrients in the water when the sponge was growing (K. Hendry).
Sunrise after the storm last night, winding our way slowly to Sars Seamount (R. Waller).
Kais, David, Eric, Michelle and Suzy (with Kathy working in the background) trying to relax during the stormy transit by watching a film, complete with popcorn! (R. Waller).

The Art of Alkalinity

May 27th

Hi everyone, my name is David and I’m excited to be participating in my first research cruise. I was first introduced to oceanography, specifically cold-water corals, as a summer intern in 2009 by our chief scientist, Laura Robinson. Since then I’ve continued focusing on coral geochemistry and was quick to jump on an opportunity to study them in their natural habitat.

My background is in chemistry, which I use as a tool for examining and understanding the world around us. In particular, I study the chemical composition of fossil coral skeletons. As coral geoscientists, it’s our hope that the chemistry recorded in coral skeletons is representative of the chemistry of the ocean water in which the corals grew. If so, then we can use ancient corals as archives of the ingredients that made up the ocean in the past. Coupled with observations of how the oceans work today, we’d be well on our way to unraveling how one of our planet’s most dynamic and complex systems behaves!

One way we can test whether coral skeletons record the composition of the seawater around them is to analyze modern corals and compare them to water samples that we obtain while on cruises like this one. In her blog post, Tina mentioned that one measurement we make onboard is of seawater alkalinity. One reason we measure alkalinity is so that when the modern corals we’re collecting go back to various labs for analysis, we can compare their skeletal composition to the alkalinity of the water bathing the corals as they grow. If we find a strong correlation, then we know we’ve found a good “proxy” for discovering what seawater alkalinity was like in the past – we would just have to look in the skeletons of ancient corals!

You might be wondering, `what is alkalinity?` You might have heard of pH, which is a measure of the acidity of water. Alkalinity is the acid neutralizing capacity of that same water. For example, pretend I have two buckets of water at the same neutral pH. In the first bucket I pour in some sulfuric acid and the pH drops really low, which is to say the bucket became highly acidic. In the second bucket I pour in the same amount of sulfuric acid, but the pH doesn’t change all that much. We would say that the second bucket had a higher acid neutralizing capacity, or that the second bucket had higher alkalinity.

Besides getting excited about alkalinity, I’m enjoying helping out with every odd job I can on the boat. My favorite task is going on the back deck of the boat whenever new samples come up from the seafloor. For safety and warmth everyone has to wear orange “float coats” and hardhats. It’s one of the few times every day I get outdoors and have a chance to marvel at the endless waves around us.

By David

Weather: Temperature 37 °F, windchill 5 ºF, windspeed 10-55 (!) knots, cloudy with building seas…

David on deck, wearing a protective hardhat and float coat (T. van der Flierdt).
The night watch helping MTs Mark and Stian to fix a broken dredge (R. Waller).

A wave surprises the DropCam team (M. Brugler).

Meanwhile, inside, Laura and Sandy battle it out on the Twister board (R. Waller).

Red crab scramble! A photo taken at 900m depth by the DropCam today on Interim Seamount, where we’ve been working for the last few days.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The First Cruise Experience

26th May 2011

I don’t think it really hit that I was in for a once in a life-time experience until I was flying over Patagonia on the way to Punta Arenas and saw the Andes breaking through the cloud cover. This is my first scientific cruise and the longest time I’ve ever spent out at sea. Needless to say I was a bit concerned having heard stories of the violent weather and high seas of the Drake Passage as well as the intense cold I was most likely going to experience being so close to Antarctica. The nervousness left relatively quickly, however, once the work began and we had set sail.

Being able to be a part of the many different research goals while being on the same ship and working cooperatively with different fields of study has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had so far on the Nathaniel B. Palmer. The size of the crew requires that everyone on shift be prepared to help one another with whatever needs to be done, regardless of previous experience. Although my main focus lies in collecting, identifying, and storing the organisms we find using Blake trawls and Heine Dredges I have been introduced to a wide array of other jobs while on shift. I have helped collect and subsample fossil corals brought in from Heine dredges as well as gain a basic understanding of the multibeam program CARIS we use for underwater mapping. The theme of cooperation is omnipresent on the ship and we often find ourselves helping the Marine Technicians whenever we can while on deck to help with safety or help ease the load of bringing in a Box-Core Sample.

Working and collaborating together on the same team with many different goals has been an eye opening experience for me. Many of the biological samples collected will go to other scientists, whose research focuses and depends on the specific organisms we collect while on our cruise. There has been a general feeling of camaraderie on the ship with many laughs to be had and a common goal to do the best we can in order to help one another. Overall the experience has been a great one and I look forward to the next half of the cruise being as good, if not better than the first half.

By Sebastian

Weather: temperature 36 °F, windchill 10 °F, windspeed 20-30 knots, clouds, high seas and big swell!

 A Bayergorgia ocotocoral collected in one of the trawls, one of Sebastian’s more memorable creatures (S. Valez)

Shannon, Sebastian and Eric sorting through some corals from a trawl (R. Waller). 
 John, Sebastian, Kais, Andrea and Eric celebrating a successful dredge a few days ago (R. Waller).

Meanwhile, after a few days of strong winds, the seas have become very high, with a few dramatic moments on the back deck. Here, Sandy and Skip recover a damaged dredge (R. Waller).

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sands of time / Arenas del tiempo

May 25th

When you flip an hourglass over you´ll notice that the first grains of sand that fall through its neck will stay at the bottom of the pile of sand that forms as time goes by. In the ocean, sediments supplied by rivers, icebergs, wind and organisms sink to the ocean floor all the time, and like in an hourglass, new particles pile up on top of sediments deposited in previous times.

This convenient arrangement acts as a natural recording device to preserve information about past environmental conditions on Earth. To unravel this signal encrypted in sediments, we first need to collect an undisturbed sample of sediments from the ocean floor, where older sediments are still at the bottom and younger ones at the top. We use devices called sediment corers, which essentially are tubes or boxes that are lowered to the bottom, sink on the ocean floor, and are pulled back onto the ship hopefully keeping an intact sample of the ocean floor within.

Once a core is on board or in the lab, we take samples that were deposited in a period of interest and take sophisticated measurements that will translate information about past ocean temperature, acidity, current strength, chemistry, etc. To be able to do this we need to obtain the sediment age. There are many ways to know how long ago sediments, and the information contained in them, were deposited. Some require a simple count, like in sediments that are deposited regularly following seasons, where one or two clear distinct layers mark each year. Unfortunately, this is not often the case, and other methods such as radiocarbon (or Carbon 14) dating, are used. Typically, sand-size skeletons of organisms called foraminifera, which are made of calcium carbonate, are used. However, burrowing organisms living on the ocean floor may slightly mix the sediments, making accurate dating of sediments a bit more difficult.

One of the goals already accomplished in this cruise was to obtain fossil corals from sediment cores. These corals may be suitable for dating by radiocarbon and other chemical elements. Corals are 20 to 400 times larger than foraminifera, and therefore much more difficult to be mixed by burrowing organisms, which may improve dating accuracy. If successful, it will help us know the age of the sediments that surround them, know how long ago corals lived in this area, and if they settled or became extinct associated with a change in oceanographic or climatic conditions. Time will tell us.

By Kais

Weather: Weather: temperature 37 °F, windchill 10 °F, windspeed 10-30 knots, sunny then cloudy.

25 Mayo

Imagina un reloj de arena, cuyos granos se deslizan continuamente por su estrecho cuello, formando un montón en su base a medida que pasa el tiempo. Los primeros granos, en los primeros segundos, quedarán atrapados en la base del depósito que se forma y nos dice cuanto tiempo ha transcurrido. En el océano, los sedimentos aportados por los ríos, los icebergs, el viento y las criaturas que viven en él se depositan en el fondo continuamente, y, como en un reloj de arena, las partículas de sedimento más recientes se depositan encima de las depositadas en períodos anteriores.

Esta conveniente organización vertical permite que los sedimentos actúen como un dispositivo natural de grabación capaz de preservar información acerca de las condiciones ambientales en el pasado de la Tierra. Para desentrañar esta señal encriptada en los sedimentos necesitamos extraer muestras de sedimentos sin perturbar del fondo oceánico, en las que los sedimentos más antiguos se encuentren todavía en la parte inferior, y los más recientes en la superior. Para esta tarea empleamos unos instrumentos llamados sacatestigos de sedimento, o “corers”. Estos dispositivos son en esencia unos tubos o cajas que se hacen descender hasta el fondo marino, se introducen en el sedimento, y se vuelven a subir a bordo esperando que contengan en su interior una muestra intacta de sedimentos del fondo oceánico.

Con el testigo a bordo o ya en el laboratorio, extraemos muestras de sedimentos depositados en el período de interés y llevamos a cabo medidas sofisticadas que se traducirán en información acerca de la temperatura del océano, su acidez, corrientes, composición química, etc., en el pasado. Para conseguir esto es necesario conocer la edad del sedimento. Existen muchas maneras para saber el tiempo transcurrido desde que se depositó un sedimento y la información que contiene. Algunos de estos métodos requieren un simple contaje, como en sedimentos que depositados periódicamente siguiendo el ritmo de las estaciones, en los que cada año se reconoce por una o dos capas de sedimentos bien diferenciadas. Sin embargo, este tipo de sedimentos no se encuentran con frecuencia, y es necesario recurrir a otros métodos como la datación por radiocarbono (Carbono 14). Para ello generalmente se emplea el esqueleto compuesto de carbonato cálcico de pequeños organismos llamados foraminíferos. Desafortunadamente, los organismos marinos que viven en el fondo mezclan el sedimento dificultando la obtención de edades precisas.

Uno de los objetivos que ya se han cumplido en esta expedición es la obtención de corales fósiles en testigos de sedimentos, ya que estos corales se pueden datar por radiocarbono y otros elementos químicos. Comparados con los foraminíferos, los corales son de 20 a 400 veces más grandes, de modo que su removilización y mezcla por los organismos del fondo marino es mínima, lo que mejora la exactitud de las edades obtenidas en ellos. Si esta datación es exitosa, nos permitirá conocer la edad de los sedimentos que los contienen, desde cuando hay corales en la zona estudiada, y si su establecimiento o extinción están asociadas con algún cambio en las condiciones oceanográficas o climáticas. El tiempo nos lo dirá.

Por: Kais

El tiempo: temperatura 3 °C; factor viento -12°C; velocidad del viento nudos 10-30; soleado y después nubes

Andrea, John and Kais delving into the box core (R. Waller).
Andrea, John y Kais trabajando con el box core. (R. Waller).
The kasten core on deck (R. Waller).
El Kasten core sobre la cubierta (R. Waller).

Deployment of box corer from the aft-deck A-frame of the ARV Nathaniel B. Palmer (R. Waller). Arriado del box corer desde el portico de popa del ARV Nathaniel B. Palmer (R. Waller).

Sieved sediments taken from a dredge. The white rounded grains are sand-size skeletons of foraminifera, made of calcium carbonate. The carbon in these foraminifera is typically used for radiocarbon dating of sediments (K. Mohamed Falcon).
Sedimento tamizado obtenido con la draga. Los granos blancos redondeados son esqueletos de foraminíferos del tamaño de granos de arena, compuestos de carbonato de calcio. El carbono de estos foraminíferos se utiliza para la datación por radiocarbono (K. Mohamed Falcon).

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What is Night Watch?

24th May 2011

Well, first off, night watch is a bit of a misnomer, as our shift starts at midnight (12 am) and ends at noon (12 pm), so actually we only work during the morning hours! But waking up at 11:00 PM to pitch black skies is enough to warrant its name!

The science team on our cruise is split between two watches to allow us to continue our work 24-hours a day: noon-midnight and midnight-noon. The night watch starts the day with ‘midrats’ (short for ‘midnight rations’) at 11:30 PM. We devour some combination of eggs, cereal, oatmeal, or left-overs from the day’s dinner. We are supposed to report for duty fifteen minutes before our shift starts to get briefed on what has happened by the day watch, leaving us only 15 minutes to eat. For slow-eaters like myself, this is quite the challenge!

Although we are forced into bizarre sleeping patterns, there are a lot of benefits to being on the night watch. One of the great things about being on night watch is that, in general, it is a quieter watch. There are fewer people awake during our hours, and so the hustle and bustle of the ship is not as pronounced as it is during the day watch. The quietest hours are between 2 AM and 7 AM, after the energetic day watchers have retired to bed and before the early-risers wake up. This stretch can be a long one in the rare instance when we are transiting and don’t have dredges to sort or water to analyze. But regardless of how busy we are during this time period, we inevitably find everyone sneaking back to the mess hall for a snack at around 4 AM (see blog from May 18 for a description of the lovely treats we have on board!). This cake-break is never planned, and never really even discussed. Rather, this serendipitous gathering of night-watchers is met instead with knowing glances of shared hunger; there is a marathon stretch between our first two served meals of 11:30 PM midrats (breakfast) and 7:30 AM breakfast (breakfast #2 of the day - we eat a lot of eggs and bacon)!

Another great aspect of night watch is that during the wee hours of the morning, to keep ourselves awake, the jokes start to appear - funny dress and glowsticks, singing and dancing on deck while we await an upcoming dredge, and just general silliness all around to break up the tiredness.

But by far the absolute best thing about night watch is the sunrises. Rumor has it they are WAY better than the sunsets!!

By: Andrea

Weather: temperature 32 ºF; windchill 10 ºF; wind speed 10 knots; glorious sunshine!

The night-watchers. Back row (from left to right): Eric, Shannon, Kais, John, Andrea, Michelle, Kathy. Front row: Rhian, Sebastian. (S. Alesandrini)

Figure 2. Fashionista. Kathy dons a pair of glowsticks as earrings. (R. Waller)

Figure 3. Becoming one with the corals. Kais appears to have grown a pair of primnoid horns. (R. Waller).

Figure 4. Safety-first, style second. Eric wears a stylish pair of safety goggles. (R. Waller)

Figure 5. Jazz hands! Singing and dancing as we wait for a dredge to come up. (R. Waller)

Figure 6. A perk of the job. Sunrise in the Drake Passage. (K. Falcon)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mud, mud, and more mud!

May 22nd

After having had a fabulous passage through the Bransfield Straits yesterday, we reached our next station on the Antarctic Shelf in the early morning hours. It is a station where Rhian has done a lot of work in the past, and hence we had some pre-warning of what to expect: lots of living organisms and even more mud!

Having spent the last week with bringing up dredges with rocks, fossil corals, and some small organisms, this was quite a change. It was a day where everybody got properly dirty, wet, and cold. But it also was a lot of fun. We switched our sampling gear from the metal dredge we typically use to a trawl with a net. This way we could bring it up on deck and open a knot at the bottom to empty some tens of kilograms of mud into a big bucket. Then the real fun began: two people shuffled the mud in portions of a few kilograms on a large sieve, two people sprayed the mud mount with water hoses, and two more people picked out any live organisms, and put them in buckets of water.

Sounds organised? In theory ... in practise everybody was very muddy and wet at the end of the exercise – but with a big smile on their face. Once you are soaked and muddy, it simply does not matter anymore how much water and mud hits you. On the science side we found lots of good material, such as really big live cold-water corals, giant sea cucumbers, and more. We collected a muddy 1.5 meters of Kasten core, and took successful camera pictures of the muddy ocean floor. It was a fun day!

By Tina

Weather: Weather: temperature 31 °F, windchill 4 °F, windspeed 20-25 knots, snow, sun & rain!

The back deck is a busy place when sampling gear is going down or coming up and everyone has a job to do – hooking the gear, holding a line, getting sampling buckets and tools ready, or shuffling samples from the back deck to sorting tables. Here the night team bring a box core onboard in the rolling waves. (R. Waller).

Rhian and Chris getting the mud and animals out of the Blake trawl net (T. van der Flierdt).

Kate works to sample the Kaston core (T. van der Flierdt).

The southern ocean solitary coral Flabellum impensum – the target organism of today’s trawls. Rhian is keeping these corals alive for the cruise to extract larvae from them to look at changes in larval development with differing environmental conditions (A. Margolin).

Tina and Suzy in need of a wash after some trawl sorting! (M. Escolar).

Monday, May 23, 2011

Antarctica/ Antártida

21st May 2011
“I’m in heaven”, one of my colleagues said to no-one-in-particular this morning when I was up on the bridge. We were looking out into the Bransfield Straights, the channel of water between the West Antarctic Peninsula and its companion chain of islands.  After a break of nearly four years, and thinking that I would never be back to the Peninsula, I was able to look out on the mountains and glaciers of Antarctica, King George and Nelson Islands.  And it left me, and all my new and old friends from NBP1103, without a coherent sentence.  We have been so lucky today in being able to transit between study sites in clear weather through sea-ice, between icebergs, and in the company of Adelie penguins, minke whales, fur seals and a host of seabirds.

Andrew Denton once said: “if Antarctica was music it would be Mozart.  Art, and it would be Michelangelo.  Literature, and it would be Shakespeare.  And yet it is something greater, the only place on earth that is still as it should be.  May we never tame it”.  I don’t think there is a person on board who wouldn’t agree.
Instead of a long blog, here are some of the most astonishing photos from the most amazing of days.
By Kate
Weather: temperature 28°F, windchill -4°F, windspeed 25-30 knots, sunny intervals, with patchy snow

 “Estoy en el cielo”, dijo uno de mis colegas esta mañana a nadie en particular cuando estaba en el puente. Estábamos mirando hacia el Estrecho de Bransfield, el canal entre el lado oeste de la Península Antártica y la cadena de islas que la acompañan. Después de un lapso de aproximadamente cuatro años, y pensando que nunca  regresaría a la Antártida, pude volver a  disfrutar de las montañas y glaciares de la Antártida, las Islas Rey George y Nelson. Tanto yo como mis nuevos y viejos amigos de NBP11-03 nos quedamos sin  habla. Nos sentimos tan afortunados hoy,  en tránsito hacia nuestra próxima estación de muestreo a través de aguas claras, atravesando el hielo, entre icebergs y en compañía de los pingüinos Adelie, ballenas Minke, focas  y muchas aves marinas.
Andrew Denton una vez dijo: “si la Antártida fuera música seria Mozart. Arte, y seria Miguel Ángel. Literatura y seria Shakespeare. Y es mucho más todavía,  el único lugar de la tierra que permanece como debería ser. Espero nunca la domemos”. No creo que nadie a bordo opine lo contrario. 
En lugar un largo blog, aquí mostramos algunas de las fotos más impresionantes del más asombroso de los días.
Por Kate
Traducido por Mariana y Kais

Marshall, Shannon and Rhian looking out over the sea ice.  This type of sea-ice is early on in development, and is called “pancake ice”.
Marshall, Shannon y Rhian contemplando el hielo marino. Este tipo de hielo llamado “pancake ice” es el primero que se forma.
(M. Taylor).

 A stubborn fur seal, determined not to be bothered by the ARV N.B. Palmer!
Una foca obstinada, se resiste a ser molestado por el ARV N.B. Palmer!
(M. Escolar).

Adelie penguins. 
Pingüinos Adelie
. (M. Taylor).

More Adelie penguins. 
Pingüinos Adelie.
(A. Burke).

 The wake of the ARV N.B. Palmer through the sea-ice, expertly guided by the third mate, Brandon.
La estela del ARV N.B Palmer atravesando el hielo, guiado por la mano experta de Brandon, el tercer oficial
(T. van der Flierdt).

 Clouds and sea-ice. 
Nubes y hielo.
(K. Hendry).

The bow deck from the ice tower.
La cubierta de proa desde la torre de observación.
(K. Hendry).

 Kais, Andrea and Mariana wrapped up against the cold wind on the deck.
Kais, Andrea y Mariana resistiendo el frio viento que barre la cubierta
(A. Margolin).

A minke whale surfacing off the starboard bow.
Una ballena Minke asomando por estribor.
(M. Escolar).

 A group photo out on deck, with Chris, Andrew, David, John, Andrea, Suzy, Shannon, Eric, Kais, Mariana, Kathy, Laura and Rhian.
Foto de grupo en la cubierta, con Chris, Andrew, David, John, Andrea, Suzy, Shannon, Eric, Kais, Mariana, Kathy, Laura y Rhian.  (S. Owen).

 Iceberg, in front of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.
Iceberg  frente a la placa de hielo Antártica Occidental. (M. Escolar).

 A sunlit petrel in the Bransfield Straights.
Petrel sobrevolando el Estrecho de Bransfield durante el atardecer. (A. Margolin).