The research team explored remote regions of the seafloor around McMurdo Station, Antarctica with a specially developed remotely operated vehicle (ROV) for underwater research. The ROV could be deployed through a small (15 cm) hole in the sea ice, enabling access to regions beyond scuba diving depths (at 40-170 m). The researchers located historical experimental structures on the sea floor around McMurdo Station and investigated the colonization of these structures by species of sessile invertebrates. This provided an unprecedented opportunity to explore and document the rates and patterns of ecological succession from one of the most extreme habitats in the world. The team also tested protocols for conducting sonar mapping with the new ROV as a first step towards creating high-resolution, bathymetric maps of the entire seafloor around McMurdo Station.
The team worked in the waters around McMurdo Station, Antarctica. McMurdo is the largest station in Antarctica with more than 100 buildings, a harbor, landing strip and helicopter pad. More than 1000 people live and work at McMurdo Station during the austral summer!
Mindy Bell grew up on an island in southeast Minnesota. Swimming in algae-laden waters, ice-skating around beaver lodges, and watching the wetlands come to life in the spring were instrumental in her decision to study science. Her liberal arts education at Carleton College included a term studying marine science on Catalina Island and at Hopkins Marine Station, where her fascination with marine life was fueled, yet her passion was for teaching rather than scientific research. After graduation, she took the ferry to Alaska and started teaching. After five years of teaching grade 7 to 12 science in Skagway, Alaska, and running a school fish hatchery, she attended the University of Washington in Seattle and earned a Masters degree in Biology Education. Ms. Bell now lives in Flagstaff, Arizona, where she teaches secondary science at the Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy.
Dr. Stacy Kim is a research professor in Benthic Ecology, or how organisms that live on the seafloor interact to form communities. She has worked with Dr. Adam Marsh in both Antarctic and hydrothermal vent ecosystems, and will be diving on this project to help collect worms, as well as to continue assembling data to examine long term changes in Antarctic ecosystems. When she is not studying human impacts in marine communities and developing technology for underwater research, Stacy enjoys backpacking, climbing, and beach volleyball.