PlanktonPlankton are small or microscopic organisms that float or drift in fresh or salt water, especially at or near the surface, and serve as food for fish and other larger organisms.

    Euphasia Superba
    Euphasia superba that escaped my plankton tow
    Today was another awesome day. Our team headed out to "The Jetty" which is only about 1/2 a mile from the station. We had two divers looking for T. pennellii- our fish. Although we had plenty of fish for our original experiments, our scientists have more questions they want to investigate. I think that is one of the coolest parts of the work going on down here. Dr. Todgham has several experiments that are part of her original grant. That is the work that she must get done to fulfill her obligations under her National Science Foundation grant. She has research papers that will be centered on these results. But while she is here, she also has the opportunity to run other trials as questions arise. Her team is constantly collaborating and discussing how the trials are progressing, addressing any issues that come up, and brainstorming new ideas. I hope my students notice ....all that group work we have you do will definitely pay off one day.

    While the divers were fishing, I was able to drop the plankton net a few times to collect plankton. It is really amazing what one little drop of water can hold!


    I even got to do a little...very today. I needed a way to concentrate the seawater that I collected with plankton so I wouldn't have to look through so much water to find what I was looking for. So Dr. Todgham gave me some filtering fabric and a sort of large plastic test tube. She described the filter she had made to filter sea urchin eggs in the past, and, like a good engineer, I copied her design.

    Plankton Strainer
    Plankton Strainer to concentrate collections from plankton tows
    Plankton Filter
    Home made plankton Filter
    I used a Dremel to cut out the center of the lid. Then I cut out a small fabric square, and used the lid to secure the fabric screen. Then I used the Dremel to cut the original tip off the tube. It worked!

    Who am I?

    Plankton #1
    Plankton #1

    Plankton #2
    Plankton #2

    Plankton #3
    Plankton #3

    Plankton #4
    Plankton #4
    I was able to use the dissecting microscope with a camera attached. It was really hard to get the focus and the lighting right. If the image looked good through the ocular pieces, then it usually wasn't focused for the camera. I need to practice more to get better at lighting too. Of course, my wonderful eyesight didn't help with focus either. So....what do you think these are? What different organisms do you see? One of them is very much like something we see in our local lakes. Hint to my class....there is a stuffed one hanging in the back of the room! One species was deemed too abundant to count. There were probably 200-300 in the sample I had from the two tows this morning. Polar TREC teacher Amy Osborne counted plankton from yesterday's tow at Cape Evans. I wonder what she found?

    Shout Out

    Ms. Spallino's penguins from CCDS in Chico, California
    Ms. Spallino's penguins from CCDS in Chico, California
    Today's shout out goes to Ms. Spallino's class from Chico Country Day School. You did an amazing job making penguins. I can't wait to meet you all when I get back to California.


    Tomorrow is all about being flexible. I might go out to Cape Evans to tour the Terra Nova Hut where Robert F Scott left for his second attempt to reach the South Pole. Or, I might be back in the lab searching through plankton. Either way, I'm in Antarctica, and it's all good.

    Stay Cool,


    CCDS Otters

    Hello, we hope you are doing well? After it snows in Antarctica is there ever a rainbow like we see back home? How long until you come back? How do you catch the fish, do you go fishing for them? Is the air really dry there? How did you figure out there were 200-300 plankton? Are there any mosquitoes in Antarctica? Are you allowed to play in the snow? Is there only the cafeteria or are there restaurants? We hope you are having fun!

    Denise Hardoy

    Hi Otters!!!
    Good questions today! I have not seen any rainbows here. I doubt that they happen very often. Rainbows need moisture in the air to form , and this is an extremely dry continent. We do get a chance to play in the snow, but it is getting less and less. It is heading into summer down here. We catch fish two ways. Our divers use regular fish nets , like for aquariums, to catch the 2 inch two year olds. Then, if we need adults, we get out the fishing poles. I actually caught one the other day, but my camera wasn't working! I estimated the number of plankton. I took counts for several petri dishes, then multiplies it times how much water I had.
    There are definitely no mosquitoes down here. No any other insects either. Not even any mice or rodents.
    We only have the cafeteria, but it kind of has mini restaurants inside it. Any day, I could choose the main course, or one of six or so other main course choices.
    See you tomorrow!