Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

» About the Antarctic Expedition

  • Week 1

  • Week 2

  • Week 3

  • Week 4

  • Week 5

  • Week 6

» Learn More: Salps!

» Learn More: Weddell Seals!

» Learn More: Penguins!

» Learn More: Drake!

» Learn More: Gould!

» Learn More: CTD

» Learn More: Plankton Nets!

» Thank you!

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 This is a tabular iceberg. Tabular icebergs are very large and flat like tables. They often have a blue-tint and can rise above the sea by over 100 feet! (Regina Campbell-Malone)

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 This is a great picture of a small stratified floe that has three different colors of ice! They are colored bright white, light blue and brown. (Regina Campbell-Malone)

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This is a handout describing the different kinds of ice formations.  Have you seen any of these before? (Skip Owens)

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 This is a photo of the octopus that we caught in a benthic trawl a few days back. His middle name is "Oscar" after Oscar the Grouch because he was scowling in the corner of his tank when grad student Brennan Phillips visited him.  His full name is Iggy "Oscar" Mustache (pronounced "moo-stah-shay"), named by the I's.  (Regina Campbell-Malone)

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 Nesting Adelaide penguins at Esperanza. These two pinguinos are keeping their eggs warm on nests made of rocks and feathers. When they aren't incubating they are walking or sliding around on their tummies when moving from place to place. (Regina Campbell-Malone)

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 Captain Mike (left) joined Base Chief Nestor Fabian Arguello (right) and his family at the head table during a night of relaxation and fun at the Argentine Antarctic Base Esperanza. (Regina Campbell-Malone)

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 Mi amiga nueva Michaela. This is my new friend Michaela. She is 9 years old, super friendly and is very good at playing "I Spy!" She also showed me how to dance! (Regina Campbell-Malone)

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 Let them eat snow!!! Heather Blasczyk (left), Adriene Burnette (right) and I partake in the purest of snow on the planet at Esperanza as Adelaide penguins rest in the background. Surprisingly, you really can taste the difference between this stuff and the acid rain/snow up north! (Regina Campbell-Malone)

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 A view of the Argentine Antarctic Base Esperanza from the zodiac. Note the white satellite dish to the left of the photo. (Regina Campbell-Malone)

December 1-7, 2004

December 1, 2004
Happy December to all! A great day of "firsts" today! During my 4am watch our team got to view the first iceberg of the trip. It was huge even though it was looming off in the distance! We saw Elephant Island for the first time. It is beautiful and has large chunks of ice that slide down its steep slopes.

Our team also got our first crack at using the epi-benthic sled. This is yet *another* device that is dragged along the bottom to collect samples... I know you are probably wondering "how many more ways can there be to do the same thing!?!" There are lots!

Each has its pros and cons so each tool is used at different times and can bring up different samples! This time, the epi-benthic sled brought in lots of mud that we had to sift through with sieves... kind of like panning for gold! Instead of gold, we found a ton of starfish (even a pair of white starfish and lots of starfish that were brooding mini-starfish on their undersides!), lots of worm tubes, sponges and an octopus!
The octopus was alive and well when I pulled him out of the mud so I cleaned him off, put seawater in a clear plastic box and let him swim around. When I picked him up to put him in his special octopus swimming pool he turned colors!

Octopods have little cells on their skin that are full of pigment. These cells are called chromatophores. When an octopus wants to communicate or camouflage itself all of these cells get really big and show their pigment. When it is done displaying, the cells contract and the octopus turns back to its normal coloration. It is really neat to watch! I photographed and video taped him stretching his arms around the box and curling himself up into a corner where he looked really mean!!

When I put him back into his bowl he inked at me and tried to crawl out of the dish! Brennan Phillips, a student on-board, decided that his middle name should be Oscar, after Oscar the Grouch! I think that is a great middle name, but this guy also needs a first *and* a last name too! Once you get to see his picture, would you like to help choose a first name (Evil Slugs?) and a last name (Dolphins?) for our octopus? Stay tuned for the pictures!

I heard from the Evil Slugs and the Dolphins! Thanks for your great questions ladies, keep them coming. I hear you have moved onto the large map of Antarctica now.
Well, since you are doing such a great job here are more coordinates for you:
00:29:26 S 60 deg 47.48' W 056 deg 18.10' air 1.0 deg C, winds 25-30 knots, ship speed 3 knots, depth 2392 m
10:16:50 S 61 deg 23.12' W 055 deg 11.26' air 3.9 deg C, winds 23-25 knots, ship speed 8-10 knots, depth 561 m
20:26:06 S 61 deg 24.40' W 055 deg 07.31' air 0.3 deg C, winds 27-29 knots, ship speed 9.6 knots, depth 814 m

December 2, 2004
Hi all! So today we found ourselves surrounded by glaciers and ice bergs of different shapes, sizes, and (surprisingly!) a few different colors too!  Glaciers are masses of snow and ice that spread out and move across land or on water. Icebergs are large masses of floating ice that are at least 5 meters above the sea surface. Some of them can be as much as 15 miles in length!

Just like the Inuit (Eskimos) have over 100 different words for snow, there are a variety of types of floating ice that ships have to look out for down here. The ship's Chief Mate Scott Flanagan and Marine Projects Coordinator Skip Owen have told us a few things about them so I thought I would share them with you. Skip even has a great list called Know Your Ice that we'll try to post for you.

The first image is of a tabular berg. These are large, icebergs that look like flat ice blocks floating above the water. They remind me of icy versions of the flat-topped mountains out west called mesas.

The second image is of a small floe, or floating ice that is not attached to the coast. If you look carefully you can make out 3 different colors in the floe. There is bright white, light blue and brown... which is really the color of the ice, not rock or dirt! Two of the colors result from the sun shining through ice that is fresh and lightly packed (white), more densely packed and water-laden (light blue). I haven't quite figured out what makes the brown layer yet, but I'll be sure to let you know as soon as I find out. It looks very much like the stratification that you see when a landslide occurs on a mountain and exposes all of the hidden layers of colored rock.

Another type of iceberg that I have yet to see is a Growler... these are older pieces of floating ice that are clear, have a low profile in the water so they are very difficult to see! Scott says these are the most dangerous because you can't see them coming since they are clear and are not well exposed above water.

My favorite icebergs are Bergy Bits! These are tiny floating ice pieces that are less than 16 feet high and less than 25 feet across. They break off or fall off of larger ice bergs and down here it seems as though they are everywhere! They make the Southern Ocean look like a huge glass of water with little ice cubes bobbing on the surface. Take a look at the rest of the ice types on the "Know your Ice" sheet to learn even more. Have you ever seen any of these ice types in a lake or river near you during the winter?

Coordinates, if you please...
07:42:58 S 62 deg 23.96' W 056 deg 58.11'  air 0.2 deg C, winds 5-7 knots, ship speed 10.2 k, depth 1114m
12:29:24 S 62 deg 45.05' W 056 deg 46.16'  air -0.2 deg C, winds 5 knots, ship speed 1 knot, depth 200 m
20:57:10 S 63 deg 08.39'  W056 deg 55.42', air 0.0 deg C, winds 4 knots, ship speed 9.9 knots, depth 216 m

December 3, 2004
This morning we bopped about sampling in the Antarctic Archipelago around Vega Island (which is beautiful!). We used the epi-benthic sled (which has now been nicknamed the epidemic sled because it brings in so much stuff so fast that we can hardly handle it!). This haul brought in huge amounts of mud just thick with glass coral which resembles fiberglass insulation and clogs any strainers that we try to use. It took us 40 minutes just to clear the deck of mud when we finished! On my way to breakfast I stopped to wash my hands and noticed that I had a big stripe of sea mud under my right eye. It looked like the black charcoal that football players wear which was fitting since we were having a little bit of football style fun with some large sea sponges when cleaning up on deck! 36-18-24- Hike!

At 6:00pm we had finished processing the benthic samples and the ship had anchored just off of Esperanza, an Antarctic outpost belonging to Argentina. We had a meeting with Skip Owen (remember him from an earlier entry? He told me about different types of ice?) who warned us that according to International Law, in Antarctica we were only allowed to "take only photographs and leave only footprints." That means don't take any penguins and don't leave any coke bottles!

Soon after, we got on board the mini powerboats, called zodiacs, and went ashore with a ton of food and gifts!  When we docked, we walked to the village past colonies of Adelaide penguins. It was great to finally see penguins in snow! We got lots of photos and even a movie of the penguins walking and sliding through the snow on their bellies. (I'm told there is also some footage of my watchmates Heather, Adriene and I sliding down a hill on our bellies imitating penguins!?! Perhaps we've been on the boat a bit too long!).

Esperanza is located on the northeastern coast of Trinity Peninsula. It is a year-round colony and research station that houses several families including 21 children from 2-15 years of age. They were very excited to have visitors, since the last boat that came to Esperanza had left over 2 months ago!

They prepared their mess hall, called La Cocina (pronounced co-see-nah, which means kitchen in spanish), for a big feast with both Argentine foods and some home-cooking from The Gould's chefs. Together, the base families and our crew ate at four long tables set up in the shape of the letter E. The family of the base chief, Nestor Fabian Arguello, and his family sat at the head table with The Gould's Captain Mike. The Captain and the Chief presented t-shirts and hats to one another and Captain Mike brought presents for each of the children including t-shirts from his son's school in Florida.

We had such a good time! Wonderful food, fabulous music and great people who made us feel right at home even though we are about as far from home as we could get! I got to sit at the table with my new friend Michaela and her family. Michaela is a beautiful nine year old girl with long brown hair and glasses. We played "I Spy" in spanish and she was very good at stumping three graduate students with the cool things she saw around the room!

After dinner some music came on and I asked Michaela if she liked to dance. She said yes, grabbed my hand and walked me out to the empty dance floor! Then she said "permitame mostrarte" (which means "let me show you") and then she showed me how to do a little shoulder shimmy to the music that had the whole crowd smiling! Then everyone got up and danced with us... it was truly amazing!

A woman named Gabriella told me that many people have gotten married in the small chapel at Esperanza. Wouldn't it be neat to say you got married in Antarctica!!! She also told me that the first person (i think?!) born in Antarctica was an Argentinian back in 1998. As far as I can tell no Americans have ever been born there. Besides the Cocina and Capilla (chapel), there is a school (Escuela), museum (Museo), clinic (Medico) and a DirectTV satellite dish! I can't wait to tell my mother that people in Antarctica have cable, even though she doesn't.

I have a few coordinates for you. Unfortunately they don't do the trip justice, because they are kind of far apart and we've moved around a LOT! So in addition to the coordinates here is a written description of the trip. Since yesterday we travelled southbound thru the Antarctic Sound, around Andersson Island (S 64 deg 23' W 056 deg 35'). Then headed west thru the Erebus & Terror Gulf between Eagle Island (S 64 deg 19' W 57 deg 23') and Vega Island (S 64 deg 08'). Then we turned around and headed back out thru the Antarctic Sound to Esperanza (S 63 deg 25' W056 deg 57'), which is located on the eastern side of Trinity Peninsula. 

09:39:09 S 63 deg 56.72' W 057 deg 17.56' air 2.6 deg C, winds 4 knots, ship speed 3 knots, depth 260 m
near Vega Island
14:50:55 S 63 deg 40.29' W 056 deg 44.93'
23:36:30 S 63 deg 22.26' W 056 deg 52.75' air -1.7 deg C, winds 13.5 knots, ship speed 10 knots, depth 312 m 

December 4, 2004
4am shift - So after the festivities last night everyone else gets to sleep in, but I'm on XBT watch so I'm up launching every 40 minutes during my shift. This is perfect, since I have time to catch up on editing and organizing photos in between XBTs. Lucky thing, because I know that without careful organization and file naming I'll forget which island is which or what type of penguins I photographed! Once my shift is over, it's off to breakfast and then to bed.

Today we had an easy day, with no plankton tows or dredges scheduled until after 4pm. I got to sleep in from 8:30am until 2pm! I know it doesn't sound like much but, wow, did it feel good!

4pm shift - We deployed a Smith-Mac grab to sample the sea sediment. This device is like a big spring -loaded scoop that gets lowered to the sea floor on a cable. When it hits the bottom, the trigger releases the spring and the scoop snaps shut, scooping up mud and rocks. We sifted through the mud to find small worms, starfish and a scaleworm... a freaky looking worm that is as long as your hand and half as wide as your wrist! It has scales down its back and lots of long thin hair like spines along its sides.

After my shift, I got a chance to drive the boat with Chief Mate Scott Flanagan. From the bridge, he pointed out some penguins swimming along side the boat. They surface and then swim underwater for a bit, just like dolphins and porpoises do.
Today was a great day to rest and the crew really needed it! 

05:00:04 S 62 deg 38.49' W 057 deg 05.45' air temp -0.3 deg C, winds 10-12 knots, ship speed 10.7 knots,  depth 391m
09:42:13 S 62 deg 03.12' W 057 deg 07.79'
12:10:39 S 62 deg 03.00' W 057 deg 08.25'
14:23:07 S 62 deg 12.28' W 057 deg 47.89' air temp 1.0 deg C, winds 7-9 knots, ship speed 9.5 knots, depth 1190 m
16:15:49 S 62 deg 13.26' W 062 deg 13.26' air temp 2.5 deg C, winds 5-7 knots, ship speed 9.8 knots, depth 502 

December 5, 2004
Still steaming along. XBTs, plankton and dredging... 11 days till Palmer Station!

03:54:46 S 62 deg 27.65' W 058 deg 52.86' air 0.3 deg C, winds 10-13 knots, ship speed 9.5 knots, depth 1520 m
07:23:18 S 62 deg 37.39' W 059 deg 45.36' ship speed 2.2, depth 184 m
12:41:54 S 62 deg 53.92' W 059 deg 25.47' air 0.2 deg C, winds 9 knots, ship speed 2.3 knots, depth 896 m
18:22:34 S 63 deg 19.25' W 059 deg 06.75' air -0.2 deg C winds 13-14 knots, ship speed 0.8 knots, depth 306 m
20:10:00 S 63 deg 17.33' W 059 deg 02.732 air -0.1 deg C, winds 15-17 knots 

December 6, 2004
Today was a pretty routine day on the ship. Shifts today brought in more benthic and plankton samples and saw XBT launches. We should reach Deception Island sometime during the night. It is an active volcano whose center is submerged though part of its peak forms the island (so the island is shaped like a C... with the center being the volcano's pore!)

It was a very active whaling station when commercial whaling was still allowed, so if the weather permits the dive operations they may find whale bones on the ocean floor! Of course that makes this whale biologist very excited (since I've missed the only whale that the ship's crew has spotted - it was a minke whale 2 days ago!).
The countdown to Palmer Station continues... only 10 more days!

Happy Mapping, my friends!
07:10:17 S 63 deg 13.98' W 058 deg 44.87' air 0.0 deg C, winds 2-3 knots, ship speed 0.5 knots, depth 88 m
15:57:03 S 63 deg 27.47' W 060 deg 27.27' air -0.5 deg C, winds 20 knots, ship speed 10.78 knots, depth 619 m
20:04:23 S 63 deg 25.74' W 060 deg 54.92' 

December 7, 2004
So today is a very special day for the crew - it is Hump Day, the day that marks the half-way point of the cruise!

After a successful CTD hydrocast, we attempted to deploy a plankton net this morning. In winds of 35-40 knots, it acted like a soggy wind sock and kept heading beneath the boat. So in the interest of safety (and not losing another plankton net to the propeller!) the crew decided to cancel the deployment and move on to the next station. This is the first time that the weather has stopped science (other than the poor dive operations team!) during this cruise. That is huge for this area since high winds and heavy seas regularly hit the pause button during cruises such as this. Keep your fingers crossed that the good luck stays with us!

We were able to do another CTD and successfully got in a plankton tow this afternoon. I also got swamped by a TON of sea spray while launching an XBT... I saw it coming and was able to turn my back, but that didn't stop the winch driver, Ernest Stelly, from having a good laugh!

Our stop at Deception Island was delayed until the winds die down. It looks like it is going to be a good stop. Turns out that Deception Island is a region of interesting volcanic activity, though as far as I can tell the last major eruption was in 1970. There are 5 specially protected sites in and around the island where human activity is limited to prevent interference with endemic wildlife or intriguing volcanic vents. The dive team hopes to dive close to shore or send the remote operated vehicle (ROV) called the Highball down to see what the volcano floor looks like.

We also found out that we are actually going to land on Deception by zodiac to tour the old whaling station, an old plane fuselage and perhaps hike up the volcano face. It would be really neat to see some old whale bones and perhaps even identify what part of the animal it came from! It is also just great to touch land after being at sea for two weeks.

I didn't realize it at the time, but our stop at Esperanza is the only time that we will actually walk on the continent of Antarctica. Deception Island and Palmer Station are both islands off the continent itself. Just in case you want to check it out yourself, Palmer Station is located on Anvers Island.

Now, how about those coordinates?!
06:11:55 S 62 deg 44.97' W 059 deg 52.31' air 1.4 deg C, winds 35-40 knots, ship speed 9 knots, depth 998 m
15:32:55 S 62 deg 57.55' W 061 deg 32.77' air 2.1 deg C, winds 22-24 knots, ship speed 9.4 knots, depth 270 m
18:50:34 S 62 deg 57.87' W 061 deg 59.86'

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