Ask a Scientist

Send any questions you might have about life onboard a research vessel, antarctic science or even what we had for dinner to our webmaster Linda Healy - we'll get back to you as soon as we can and post a selection up on this page! 

1 June 2011
Q: Are you eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables?

A: Of course!! For instance, in the past hour, the members of the night watch have eaten:

strawberries (pop-tarts)
potatoes (pringles)
coconut (cookies)
chocolate cake (....that counts, right?)

Joking aside, there is still some fresh fruit on board (oranges, pears, and apples). Sadly though, the fresh salad bar that was full of lettuce, peppers, and cucumbers at the start of our 5-week cruise, has been replaced with pasta salad and canned veggies  because of the difficulty of keeping fresh veggies fresh. So while we might not be eating fresh vegetables, the galley does a great job of serving us plenty of canned or frozen fruits and veggies, and making them taste good too!

Thanks for asking!

31 May, 2011
Q: Are deep-sea corals also found in the Arctic Ocean?
     Are you seeing the aurora australis? I haven't seen any photos of the southern lights in the blog.
     Beth, in Wisconsin

A: Hi Beth,
There are indeed corals in the Arctic Ocean, deep-sea corals are found in every ocean on the planet! In fact there are actually more species of deep-sea corals than shallow ones, but as most of them live below 500m we can't see them, so many only know about the tropical corals we can snorkel and SCUBA dive around. We haven't seen the Aurora unfortunately, we haven't quite gone south enough. I hope to see it one day down here though!

Thanks for following our cruise!

25 May 2011

Q: Do you lot beaver away in the evenings analysing your day’s activities, or do you put it all off until you get back to base? Laura's brother Oliver

A: Dear Olly,
Everyone an board works at least a 12 hour shift, mostly from 12 to 12 - so we have a full 24 hour a day operation. During the shift we keep up with all the ongoing work (planning, deploying equipment, sorting samples, logging, processing and preserving samples). We are not doing very much analytical work out here for two reasons - we don't have much spare time, and it is hard to work with sensitive instrumentation on a rolling ship. So what we do is prepare the samples as far as we can, ship them home, and then get to work.

Q: What does penguin taste like? Oliver

A: I have no idea - but I expect it is rather fishy....

16 May 2011

Q: What happens when a new species is discovered? Sarah

A: Dear Sarah,
Well after a lot of checking and double checking (and then maybe an excited little new species dance) you have to physically describe the species, specifically the one specimen you think best represents the species. This specimen is called the type or holotype. It gets stored in a museum usually and is the one that, if anyone finds anything else similar, will be referred to forever more. The description has to follow a set of rules to make sure that you cover every angle. Lastly you pick a name (and there are rules dictating this as well).

We've found a few new deep-sea octocorals on this cruise so I'm off to describe a new one right now!

All the best, Michelle