Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

» About the Antarctic Expedition

  • Week 1

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  • 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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Palmer Station (Regina Campbell-Malone)

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Phone Home. Nerida Wilson (Auburn University) tries to call loved ones in Australia while the Gould is docked at Palmer Station. At times like this reaching an answering machine is a real bummer. (Regina Campbell-Malone)

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Going my way? After climing the Glacier in the "backyard" of Palmer Station, I hopped aboard a working Ski-Doo snowmobile. (Jonathan Craft)

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Auburn Pride!! The Auburn University Crew, (l to r: Heather, Adriene, Ken, Rebecca, and Jonathan) don their shirts with pride atop the Glacier! (Regina Campbell-Malone)

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Here we have a pilidium larva. We found them often in the plankton tows around the Antarctic islands. When it matures it will change into an adult ribbon worm. (Susie Balser, Illinois Wesleyan University)

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This is a pteropod (pronounced Tair-a-pod). Pteropods are related to snails and are also known as sea butterflies because of the way they flap their wings to keep themselves afloat. They come in a wide array of colors from purple velvet to bright pink or orange and are really beautiful! (Larry Madin)

December 15-21, 2004

December 15, 2004
Palmer Station tomorrow. 10 more days till Christmas! Very busy finishing up benthic (ocean bottom) sampling and packing up the supplies and samples that will be off-loaded in Punta Arenas, Chile for transport.

14:14:24 S 64 deg 45.37' W 062 deg 43.88' air 4.7 deg C, winds 0-2 knots, ship speed 3 knots, depth 345 m
19:32:06 S 64 deg 50.31' W 062 deg 56.94' air 1.5 deg C, winds 1-2 knots, ship speed 6 knots, depth 316 m

December 16, 2004
We've finally arrived at the long awaited Palmer Station! There are very few buildings, several zodiacs, cargo vans and crates and a lot of ice in the harbor! We took a tour of the Biology Labs and other buildings at the station while the crew off-loaded goods and supplies and took on new cargo vans. I made my first phone calls since leaving Chile. I really missed voices of family and cherished friends! Didn't want to hang up...

We all climbed up a glacier and took group photos at the top - which was over 450 feet above the ship! We climbed back down and cleaned up before a great pizza buffet at the Palmer Station Mess Hall. The ship was hooked up to the station's internet lines so I got caught up on news updates and a little web surfing before heading back to the station to meet new people and relax. We took on 5 new people from Palmer, including the departing station manager - all of whom are headed home after several months at the station. This was a great day off... we did so much that I can't believe it was only 24 hours!!

Not a lot of movement today. Two coordinates for you - One from the early morning before reaching Palmer, the other from the top of the glacier.

03:08:44 S 64 deg 51.06' W 063 deg 52.90' air -1.2 deg C, winds 8-9 knots, ship speed 6.1 knots, depth 682 m
15:32:20 S 64 deg 46.45' W 064 deg 01.39'

December 17, 2004
Homeward bound! We pulled off from Palmer around 10am heading toward Cape Shereef to pick up others headed back to Punta Arenas with us. Science has been scaled back to CTDs and XBTs and some lab packing, so today is a full day of rest for the science staff (except for the dedicated XBT launchers Sandy Williams, Jonathan Craft and I).

In between CTD stops and ice we're going full steam ahead! Hope you can keep up!
14:00:04 S 64 deg 48.05' W 063 deg 32.63' air 2.0 deg C, winds 2-3 knots, ship speed 7 knots, depth 293 m
22:30:10 S 63 deg 50.21' W 061 deg 29.01' air 0.9 deg C, winds 5-6 knots, ship speed 0.5 knots, depth 910 m

December 18, 2004
4 days to home. The crew is getting excited, since everyone has their final travel itineraries in hand. We stopped at Cape Shereef to pick up one person by zodiac... and we're back underway. We've changed to a new system of automated XBT launching that doesn't require us to launch by hand anymore. Bummer... all I do is watch a computer screen to make sure the XBT "missile" is recording the temperature properly.

Today was full of CTDs every eight hours and plankton tows every 4 hours. I'm busy organizing and processing my photographs at the insistence of my peers who ask me every few hours if I've put them on the public network... I will, I will, I promise! I finally finished loading week one photos today! I have soooooooo many pictures (thank goodness I brought digital cameras... I don't think anyone could have afforded to have this much film developed!).

Speaking of pictures, remember the picture of the Octopus from a few weeks ago? Well, I heard from the Winsor I's and they have named the octopus from a few weeks back. His name is Iggy "Oscar" Mustache (pronounced "moo-stah-shay"... kind of like Target is pronounced "Tar-Zhay." Vive la France!).

Now for those northbound coordinates...
03:45:26 S 63 deg 23.93' W 061 deg 33.73' air -0.5 deg, winds 4-7 knots, ship speed 10 knots, depth 1101 m
09:17:06 S 62 deg 38.55' W 061 deg 44.83' air 0.1 deg C, winds 2-3 knots, ship speed 10-11knots, depth 129 m
17:33:03 S 61 deg 48.92' W 061 deg 08.10' air 3.1 deg C, winds 3 knots, ship speed 10.5 knots, depth 1258 m
20:30:42 S 61 deg 23.37' W 061 deg 23.82' air 2.0 deg C, winds 5 knots, ship speed 11 knots, depth 3793 m

December 19, 2004
Continuing northbound, full steam ahead. We travelled through a huge bloom of foraminiferans and diatoms which make looking for larvae in a plankton tow like searching for a needle in a soupy haystack. I found the northernmost pilidium larvae, a little green blob that will turn into a ribbon worm when it becomes an adult (see photo)! It was one of the very few larvae in the sample at all.
Coordinates are as follows:
03:40:04 S 60 deg 16.35' W 062 deg 04.24' air temp 0.3 deg C, winds 4-6
knots, ship speed 10 knots, depth 3884 m
15:28:39 S 58 deg 45.38' W 062 deg 56.76' air temp 2.2 deg C, winds 7-9
knots, ship speed 11knots, depth 3830 m
20:03:00 S 58 deg 09.54' W 063 deg 16.91' air temp 2.2 deg C, winds 13-16
knots, ship speed 11 knots, depth 3933 m

December 20, 2004
Altogether now, "more plankton tows and XBTs!" The plankton tows are coming
up mostly full of diatoms, which are little single celled autotrophs -that's just a big word that means they make their own (auto) food (troph).  They are photosynthetic, so they make the concentrated sample look like thick greenish-brown soup.

We still aren't finding many larvae in the diatom soup. The pickings are very slim. We aren't seeing anymore pilidium (ribbon worm larvae) or sea star larvae, called bipinnaria. After spending so much time getting learning how to identify and classify so many organisms, I am sad to see them go.

We are still finding plenty of copepods, amphipods, some snails and pteropods. Pteropods are a neat looking organism related to snails.  They are also known as sea butterflies because they move by flapping their soft "wings." Some can be as small as a pin head while others can be as big as a pencil eraser! (see photo)

We're back to launching XBT's with the hand launcher - which is far more fun and gets me outside every 30 minutes! It is a balmy 11.5 degrees! No gloves or hat needed on the back of the boat - it feels wonderful. One thing I've noticed about the past few northbound days is the welcome setting of the sun and real darkness again. The sky now looks different during my 4am shift than it does during my 4pm shift - unlike the days when we were further south and it was easy to forget whether it was a.m. or p.m.! Darkness makes for good sleep! Who am I kidding, all I need to sleep is a pillow! :-)

Ever closer to home... Check it out:
04:41:24 S 57 deg 01.20' W 063 deg 54.00' ship speed 2 knots, depth 3896 m
19:04:24 S 55 deg 02.00' W 064 deg 56.59' air temp 11 deg C, winds 19-22
knots, ship speed 10 knots, depth 959 m

December 21, 2004
All science operations have ceased for the plankton and XBT projects. Minds and bodies are now preparing for the journey home. It was smooth sailing through the Straits of Magellan, though the tide was flowing against us and kept our speed well below 10 knots for hours.

When we finally docked in Punta Arenas shortly after 2am (Dec 22nd) most were still awake and were very excited. The science staff was told that because it was so late we wouldn't be able to get off the ship until Chilean Customs agents cleared our passports in the morning. Everyone retreated to their cabins to finish packing and get a good night's sleep. I stayed up in the general lounge editing and organizing photos.

An hour later, Captain Mike and a host of Chilean Customs agents came into the lounge and went through the big pile of passports and entry paperwork for everyone on the ship. Skip Owen saw that I was still awake working in a lounge chair. He walked over to me smiling and said "You're the first to be cleared," as he handed over my security badge. I don't think he knew what a great gift this was. That meant that at 3:00 am I was free to get off the boat! I skipped off the boat and took a short walk. It felt great to feel South America back under my feet!

11:02:14 S 53 deg 00.42' W 067 deg 35.50' air 11.2 deg C, winds 13 knots,
ship speed 9 knots, depth 70 m
16:00:15 S 52 deg 21.66' W 069 deg 05.34'
21:02:47 S 52 deg 50.92' W 070 deg 28.85'

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