One of our researchers, Tim Hollibaugh, is currently doing some extended research in the Antarctic. While internet is limited, he made time to send us a blog to update about his journey.
Today started at 6:00 AM. Well, actually it continued from 3:00 with a brief nap. Most days have been like that for the past week or so, pretty much since we left Palmer Station. "Why?" you ask. Well, partly it is because it never gets dark here, though the sun does go below the horizon, and partly because on a cruise you work around the clock. We are doing what are called hydrocasts every 60 minutes or so on transects perpendicular to the coast (look at the ship’s track on the sailwx here). The cast (as it is called) can take anywhere from 30 min to 3 hr depending on water depth. The deepest we’re sampling is off the continental shelf, at >3000 m, nearshore sampling sites (stations) are 200-400 m deep, except for in glacial channels that can be >1000 m deep. Processing the water (for my program) involves removing subsamples from the sampling containers (Niskin bottles, see photo), then setting up incubations with test substrates and collecting DNA to determine what, and how many, organisms there are in the water (mostly by filtering it through various devices, see photo). All that takes about 2 hours, so the time left between stations left for sleeping, site seeing (see photo), eating, doing laundry, writing letters, etc. is about 1-2 hr. We got lucky yesterday because we spent an inordinate amount amount of time looking (unsuccessfully, the Antarctic claims another couple hundred $K of equipment) for a lost mooring for someone else’s program, which allowed my program to get caught up on sample processing. So, it is now 10:22 local time, and we are just starting another hydrocast (photo), so later…
Sampling the Niskin bottles
Filtering water- note the chic lime green gloves
Tim's view of the sunset
Time for yet another hydrocast