Wind: NW 8.4kn
Air Temp: -0.3°C Wind Chill: -6.2°C
Surface Water Temp: -1.589°C
Day's menu: Roast Chicken, pork chops, spinach,
rice, salad, lemon cake, carrot bread; Tortellini casserole,
quiche, veg lasagna, brussels sprouts, spinach, rice, salad,
whatever cake we didn't eat since lunch, and cookies.
» View additional images from today
The ship is back in the Bransfield Strait, and the waters are
calmer. Yesterday, we were actually in the western waters of
the Drake, and I'll tell you, the Drake is still an angry place.
Thanks for rekindling the memories, but, no thanks.
We are traveling somewhere south of St. George Island (yes,
we've gone north from where we were a couple of days ago -
all part of The Plan), but between snow showers were able
to see the coast of Antarctica today. You can tell it's The
Continent because…. well, actually you can't tell it
from most of the other landscape here, but the chart says
that's what we're seeing when we look east. It does make you
pause to know what you're looking at.
The Antarctic Continent, hazy backdrop to
a stegasauric iceberg. (Photo by Janis Umschlag)
There were some delays due to equipment today. That should
come as no surprise, given the climate these huge instruments
are relegated to work in down here. A spotlight froze up the
light worked, but the hydraulics that allow it to scan had
seized from the freezing rain and spray. Same with a winch
lead, and a cable block as well. The MT's and winch technicians
are looking at the mechanics of their equipment throughout
an operation. If they see something not turning that should,
operations are suspended until things are running smoothly
again there is no fury like that of a large cable under great
tension (oh, well, maybe that of a woman scorned, but that's
not happening down here). Except for Paul Waters' climbing
the platform on top of the Bridge in wind and freezing rain
to free the spotlight, resolve was relatively simple and it
was well placed force that freed things up (like, whack the
thing with another thing that won't do the first thing any
damage). But the real query is about the occurrences being
unexpected at current temperatures, just below freezing -
perfect conditions for snags, it seems. The Captain said he
had never seen rain down here before. "It doesn't rain
in Antarctica." Weather goes from no snow to snow, but
not the 'in between' that we're seeing this year - dampness
and somewhat cold in combination seems to make the equipment
complain. The crew is well-equipped to make things work when
they cease to, that is the blessed talent of this ship's team.
There is no frenzy, no yelling, no wringing of hands (maybe
a little gnashing of teeth, however) a thing stops, it gets
some attention, and then it works again. We can't do anything
about the weather, we can only be more vigilant about how
it might affect operations.
Sea Mouse" a type of worm, quite
large in Antarctic waters. (Photo by Ellen Bailey)
This evening's plankton tow brought in a great deal of krill.
It was difficult sorting plankton with the quantity and physical
size of these crustaceans, but that's where the sieving comes
in. More valuable samples were found despite the preliminary
inconvenience. Another piece of the krill scenario was the
presence of crab eater seals following the net. They dove
and surfaced with the net. Why chase krill if they're crab
eaters??? Now, I'm not a linguist, and I don't have access
to Google here, but I was told over dinner that it's actually
a derivation of the German name for these seals. Tell me if
I'm wrong, but the German word for "krill" is close
in sound to our word "crab", and the English-speaking
piniped namers just borrowed the sound, not the meaning of
the word in the name for these seals. It makes perfect sense
to me, since I was just told (unrelated to the seal conversation)
that they rarely see crabs in Antarctica. There are occasional
spider crabs, but there would not be a population that would
be the food source for seals with the prevalence of crab eaters.
With so many krill, there will likely be other mammals feeding
I wonder if the whales are watching us sail by tonight.
it might affect operations.
Also large, "Sea Cockroach" (Isopod)
on the arm of Diego Giberto (Photo by Ellen Bailey)
The benthic tow was equally productive. It is the best array
of diversity I have yet seen. Among the trays of critters
being sorted were many types of worms, crinoids (related to
sea stars), sea spiders (the largest I've seen in 2 trips
down here), several of a white variety of sea slugs (nudibranchs),
very large sea cockroaches (isopods), sea mice (annelid worms
with hair, segmented like earthworms, only UGH-leeee!!), many
sea cucumbers and sea squirts, and a huge sea anemone that,
when cut open, had a whole sea mouse in its mouth (even Ugh-lier).
Jon Craft showed me a true shrimp they'd captured that was
very rare in Antarctic waters. This was a fun-to-observe trawl.
Getting to Know You
Diego Giberto, Argentine Observer (Photo by Ellen Bailey)
My name is Diego Giberto. I work at the benthos laboratory
of the National Institute for Fisheries Research (INDEP) of
Argentina. My main interest is the understanding of ecological
processes that control biological diversity in frontal areas,
e.g. predation, niche partitioning, dispersion and tolerance
to environmental gradients. Marine and estuarine frontal areas
are important because, among other characteristics, they usually
have high values of biological production, they constitute
major foraging grounds for nektonic organisms, and they could
promote larval retention, with the consequence that they affect
the biological patterns of surrounding waters.
I have a fellowship through CONICET (The National Council
for Scientific and Technological Research of Argentina) to
complete my PhD in Biological Sciences at the National University
of El Comahue. My advisors are Dr. C. Bremec and M. Acha.
The research topic is the trophic ecology of seven species
of benthophagous fishes of the Rio de la Plata estuary, Argentina-Uruguay,
which is characterized by the presence of two salinity fronts.
I study both the diet (gut contents, habitat use and morphology)
and the availability of potential prey in the benthic communities
(abundance and biomass patterns, diversity and habitat use).
Recently I also started to explore the potential effects of
an exotic species (a predatory gastropod) in the local benthic
communities and the food webs of the estuary.
I am on this research cruise invited by the USAP, due to the
fact that part of their work is in Argentinean waters, and
I am representing my country as a Scientific Observer. Since
I am a benthic ecologist I am helping with benthic sampling
and sorting of the target species, in particular, polychaetes.
The personal contact and collaboration with experimental scientists
and students from different countries is providing me the
possibility to update and exchange scientific information
regarding frontal areas, larval dispersion and invertebrate
biology, which will be very useful not only from a personal
point of view, but also to the institutions which I represent.