Dispatch: May 29, 2006 - We Cross the Antarctic Circle

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Day's menu: Oven baked pork spare ribs, stir fry chicken, brussels sprouts, mixed vegs, rice, salad; Hamburgers and hot dogs, chicken patty, carrots, green beans, rice, and cookies.

Reminder: To see this Journal and related info on the web (feel free to share): http://www.whoi.edu/sites/antarctica
To Write Questions to the Ship/Outreach (through June 14 only): outreach@lmg.usap.gov.

» View additional images from today

Ship’s monitor, on which navigational and environmental conditions are displayed. We had just crossed the Antarctic Circle, heading SW when I captured this. (Photo by Ellen Bailey)

We are heading southwest toward Station 31 in the Matha Strait. After that, we will travel along Adelaide Island into Marguerite Bay. If you are watching a chart of our travels, you will see that we crossed the Antarctic Circle in there somewhere, as we hit the Latitude of The Line. There was no fanfare, a few of us looked up from our books in the lounge to see the coordinates change on the Ship’s Monitor (has all of the information I put in the Journal heading each day), I took a photo of it just afterwards (sorry, that’s how anti-climactic this was), and then we went back to our reading. I understand the Equator and Arctic Circle have more ritual than that, but this was all very dignified. (The other two circles of latitude are the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn did you already know that?)

We have been steaming for a very long time now. There have been only 2 stops in the past 24 hours, and people are itching to be busy again, because there just is not that much more to do that’s comfortable to do on these rolling seas. Some work at their computers, others sleep or read. The labs are in pretty good shape as far as having samples labeled, logged, and taped shut for the part of the trip when they’re all put into the shipping boxes for offloading back in Punta Arenas.

Larval and adult of Flabellum sp.

I had the opportunity to catch up with Rhian Waller’s coral operations (ref. Journal #5). Rhian had previously seen the Antarctic corals only as preserved specimens, which she used for her PhD thesis. She knew from dissecting the preserved sample that this coral ‘broods’ that is to say, they develop babies inside their bodies rather than laying eggs, or ‘spawning’. The hope was that she could get a live coral to produce babies and then observe them to see how they developed at which point in time they ‘settled’ and started to form their calcium skeleton. She was able to capture a few Flabellum corals from the benthic hauls. From these, carefully housed in tupper-like boxes with chips of tiles lining the bottoms, some coral babies emerged from between the adult’s tentacles. At first, the larvae are soft orange- or yellow-colored disks, a little smaller than a lentil or split pea. They sit on the bottom of the ‘tank’ rather than float like some of the larvae we’re catching in nets. But Rhian is seeing that these larvae do ambulate or move around under their own power, ultimately (but not necessarily permanently) to find the right spot to attach and mature. Interestingly, they change shape or ‘morph’ several times during their development, sometimes possibly due to their surroundings or interactions with other larvae. Rhian provided the image here of a larva (photo by Rhian Waller) many times enlarged for the sake of detail, above a parental unit (photo by Susie Balser) You will see that the ‘baby’ will have to go through a lot of changes to become an ‘adult’. The ‘knobs’ at the rightside end of the larva will become tentacles like the white ones seen emerging from the parent. Very cool.

Getting to Know You

Kevin troubleshoots wherever needed, from the simple to the complex. (Photo by Ellen Bailey)

Kevin Pedigo Kevin was born in California but spent his youth in Kansas. He went to college at Berkeley, then lived and worked in San Francisco for a time. He mentioned having traveled to and spent time in Italy and Spain during his 12 years of service in the US Coast Guard, for which he was, among other things, a LORAN specialist. That experience in shipboard electronics engineering led to a civilian career which at present serves Raytheon (and us), aboard research ships such as the L.M. Gould. A colleague describes Kevin as proficient in all things electronic aboard LMG, from personal computers to ship’s radar. He now calls a resort city in Argentina home (when he’s ‘going home’ between cruises - the IRS still sees his taxable income home base as somewhere in the US). How fortunate we are to have a true sailor who is also an interesting traveler and confident, electronically skilled person in our midst.

Dan and “Lily” moving logs to the cabin site in Alaska.)

Dan Elsberg
Dan calls McCarthy, Alaska home, and is building a cabin in a setting of breathtaking wilderness there in the southeast corner of the state. He received his undergraduate degree in engineering physics from Cornell University. During his time at Cornell, Dan participated in the annual race car building (and racing) competition, generating much of the electronic aspect of the machine. He also took summer jobs related to electronics and instrumentation to pursue his growing interests. Somewhere during spring break of his senior year, the time when most college grads are getting around to deciding which direction to take next, he was inspired by an older brother, an wilderness travel instructor. They were on a road trip from Montana to Alaska, during which they took a flying tour of Denali National Park (where Mt. McKinley is although the people native to Alaska call the mountain Denali as well, and look to a permanent name change by the rest of us, eventually; politics, don’t you know). Looking over the glacial landscape, Dan and Andy discussed Dan’s possibilities of parleying what might have been an office-oriented job/career into one studying glaciers and traveling to interesting sites to do so. Next stop, U. Alaska Fairbanks, where he earned his PhD in Geophysics. One aspect of his thesis involved a study of the Siple Dome glacial rise on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. For that, instruments were devised to determine the downward flow of the ice making up that geological interest. The trap was set, baited, and SNAP!! It’s not so much the study of glaciers that drives Dan’s passions, as it is making or working on the devices that measure and feed back the data. So now Raytheon has Dan as one of the ship’s electronics technicians. Although my requests of him are the more mundane (how do I map a drive to my PC and please show me how to shrink photos using this software, etc.), it is clear to me that those with more technical electronics-related queries (like the XBT launcher and data receiver or challenges in getting important photo microscope images properly recorded) are duly pleased with Dan’s knowledge and ever pleasant manner. Mrs. Elsberg, you did a nice job with this boy. And Dan, you did a nice job with your educational path. We’re lucky to have you here, too.



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Last updated May 30, 2006
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