Oden Antarctic Expedition 08 Journals

Honey, I’m Home! The trip home started with the check in and pre-flight weigh-in to make sure that my luggage did not exceed 75 pounds.  We all were required to wear our special ECW (extreme cold weather) clothing on the military flight from McMurdo Station to New Zealand and we then crammed our change of clothing, computers and other carry-on stuff into the orange ECW bag.  After our 8-hour, cold and noisy flight in the Hercules C-130 cargo plane we arrived in Christchurch New Zealand where I learned that for some reason I had not been booked on any commercial flights to get home.  The great folks at ARCUS solved the problem right away and the next afternoon I was on my way to Auckland and then onto a 12.5 hour flight across the Pacific (and the International Date Line) to land in Los...
Exploring McMurdo For me, the reoccurring theme of this 2 month adventure has been, "Just when you thought it could not get better….”.  As we walked off the Oden on Jan 12 we were told that our flight home would be delayed for one more day and we would not leave until the 14th.  This meant that we had an extra day to explore the historic and interesting area around McMurdo.  Our first stop was our dorm room.  Although I was suddenly sharing a room with 4 others, the beds were fine and the food was great.  On our first evening we had a chance to tour Scott’s Discovery Hut which was built over 100 years ago by Robert F. Scott and later it was used by some of the other early Antarctic explorers.  The most fascinating thing about he hut is that because the climate is so cold and dry, decay...
Are We There Yet?As much as I have enjoyed every minute of this expedition and I am already starting to miss some of the great people I have become friends with on the Oden, the last mile to McMurdo has taken us over 24 hours. The Oden has been cutting a channel through 3-meter thick sea ice and it has been slow going. We have been able to see the buildings for 2 days and this morning as we prepared to leave by helicopter, we are only about 200 meters from the ice pier. The decision was made to keep us on the ship until 2pm and skip the helicopter because by then we will be able to walk off the ship. Everyone is packed and our rooms are all cleaned and inspected and it is the longest 5-hour wait I can remember. Once on shore we will be able to spend some tourist time today and then we...
McMurdo Sound Ice StationAs we approached Ross Island at the far western edge of the Ross Sea Polynya, we were greeted by amazing views of the 4 volcanic peaks of Ross Island. This was the first real land we had seen in over a month and it marked the beginning of our last week on the Oden. After 12 hours of icebreaking we established our last and longest sea ice station where we stayed for over 2 days. During that time all of the science teams worked to collect and analyze their last samples. It was also my last chance to go out on the ice with the seal research team. This time I was part of a 5-person group as we worked with the biggest Weddell seals of the entire trip. I was even promoted to be one of the 2 net handlers who actually captured each of the 5 seals. The ice of...
Note: We are running a few days behind with these journals due to communications issues with the Oden. Thank you for your patience. Oden News Flash! Before we get to today's topics I need to make a few announcements.... Mark Your Calendars and Register for this week's Live From IPY Webinar from the Oden. Go to the PolarTREC.com homepage and sign-up to participate in the one hour live event that will start at 1pm Eastern time this Wednesday, January 7th. I created a document that helps teachers understand how to prepare their classes for a webinar and it is posted on my Dec 13th journal. 2. New videos are coming soon. I am interviewing some of the scientists on board plus I have I am working on videos titled "Krill Safari" and "I Picked a Seal's Nose for Science"....
My Day With The Seal Research TeamYesterday was a life-changing day for me that I will never forget. The seal research team had invited me to spend the day helping them haul their equipment and they had asked me to help them capture video of their work. First, we searched the rapidly melting sea ice for two days until we found thick floes with seals on them. Yesterday as the Oden's big crane lowered the team's inflatable Zodiac over the side, loaded with nets and skis and biological sampling equipment I was so excited that I could barely control myself. A few weeks ago I had walked out from the ship to video the team as they worked with a seal but today I was welcomed as a member of the group. My job was to help carry equipment and to shoot video of the capture process. I also was needed...
KrillIt is so easy to imagine a place on the Earth in terms of the charismatic animals that live there. Monkeys in tropical jungles, colorful fish on coral reefs, dolphins in the sea, polar bears in the Arctic and penguins in the Antarctic. Each spring and fall, the Fingerlakes Institute in Geneva, NY invites me to bring my students out on Seneca Lake aboard their research vessel and most of the students expect to see and study the fish that the lake is famous for. Instead, when we fly our underwater camera over the lake bottom we see a slightly cloudy "soup" of plankton being filtered by a carpet of mussels covering the lake bottom. The vast majority of the life in every ecosystem is small, microscopic life that makes up the critical base of the food chain. Here in Southern...
Oden News Flash! Before we get to today's topic I need to make an announcement....Set your calendars for our 2nd Live Webinar on Wednesday, January 7th! Our first live event was a great success and we are excited to give everyone another chance to participate. By Jan. 7th we will be nearing the end of the scientific data collection portion of the expedition and we will be able to announce some preliminary results. Go to the PolarTREC home page and go to the Live From IPY link to register for the event. Before our first webinar I posted an attached document that helps you understand how to get the most out of the webinar and how to prepare your students. You can find that document on my Dec 13th journal. Holiday decorations are appearing all over Oden! Today's journal is a collection of...
Oden News Flash! Before we get to today's topic I need to make an announcement....It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas aboard Oden. Check my upcoming journal posts for photos and descriptions of how the international members of our expedition are preparing for the holidays. Fika, the Swedish Word of the Day Dr. Katarina Abrahamsson , Dr. Melissa Chierici and Dr. Agneta Fransson lead the team of Swedish ice researchers. While we were collecting ice cores they taught me an important new Swedish word. Fika is a casual way to refer to a coffee break. The trick to a successful Fika while on Antarctic sea ice is to have something to lean or sit on (like the ice block in the photo) and you must have a very well insulated thermos to keep the coffee hot! An Experiment: Going to the...
Oden News Flash! Before we get to today's topic I need to make an announcement.... I learned today that some of my journal posts from this week were lost in the complex satellite cyberspace pathway from ship to satellite to Alaska to Internet to you! I have worked with the tech experts at PolarTREC and on the Oden today and hopefully by the time you get today's journal you will also have a few extra day's journals to enjoy as well. It is all part of communicating from the remote parts of the planet! Today's topic is... Seal Research aboard Oden In 1955 an epidemic disease swept across the crabeater seal population of Antarctica and 97% of the crabeater seals (millions of individuals) died. Dr. Tero Härkönen from the Museum of Natural History in Sweden was among a group of scientists...