Biology of Antarctic Fishes Journals

Soaking up the Chicago Sun
How ironic that my last journal is on the Summer Solstice after spending 2 months in the Antarctic winter! The sun feels great!! (What the solstice means is a great thing to look up and find out why this is the longest day of the year, by the way.) Two of my fellow teachers, Andy Long and RyAnn Nelson-Jaiyesimi, join me in soaking up some summer sun. I got back in time to catch some of my co workers, but the students were already out enjoying summer break. Guess I'll have to wait until August to see them. But let's get to what you have all been waiting for...breaking news about the icefishes. To recap, we have been studying thermal tolerance among Antarctic fishes - this includes red and white-blooded fishes. We used Notothenia coriiceps as our red-blooded fish. They are a very...
Punta Arenas, Chile
Here we are back in Chile and one continent closer to home. It was a beautiful day so we went for a walk. It was great to stretch our legs after being on the boat coming across the Drake Passage. Punta Arenas is a nice place to wander around. The cemetery is amazing and the hills give you a beautiful view of the area. Lisa, Irina, and Kristin look out over Punta Arenas pondering the last couple of months. We had a fantastic time. As you can see from the smile on my face, this was a great trip. While I'm sorry it's over, I am ready to get back home. While we were at port, the R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer docked behind us. You can see from this picture how much bigger it is than the Laurence M. Gould. If you want to see a more in depth look at it, check out Juan Botella's journals. He was...
Dr. Matt Cottrell, Palmer Station, Antarctica
That's what microbial oceanography is. And that is the last project at Palmer Station that I will be reporting on before I reveal our findings on the icefish and thermal tolerance. Near last, but not least. Did you know that there are 1 billion, yes billion, bacterial cells in a liter of ocean water? Do you know how big a billion is? Let's get some perspective. A billion seconds ago? Take a guess. That's almost 32 years, so like around 1972, A billion hours ago was the Stone Age. Get the picture? A LOT. Here is Dr. Matt Cottrell in the lab down in Antarctica. Photo courtesy of Lisa Crockett Matthew T. Cottrell, Mrina Nikrad, and Jill Mikucki are down here studying microbial oceanography. A microbe is anything living that you need a microscope to see...but we are not including viruses...
Jeff Grimm and Paula Dell preserving fish eggs, Palmer Station
First my apologies for the sporadic entries; the Internet on the high seas is sporadic. I mean, if you think about it, I'm lucky to be able to post any thing at all from the middle of the Drake Passage! Really - have you looked at a map lately? Luckily we have had unbelievably smooth sailing across what is considered one of the most turbulent sea ways on the planet. Our smooth sailing has a name - Drake Lake. And while that is great, I have to admit I thought it would be kind of cool to see some of those huge swells that I hear so much about. But as they say - be careful what you wish for, it might come true. The other side of those stories is falling out of bed as the ship rocks from side to side violently or watching waves sweep higher than the ship which must be a little disconcerting...
Fish Printing at Palmer Station, Antarctica
Pronounced ghee - o - tah - koo. Gyo referring to fish, taku referring to impressions. The art of Japanese fish printing. I am told that this art was developed in Japan over 100 years ago to record trophy fish catches. Pretty creative if you don't have a camera. Gyotaku is yet another skill I have picked up while in Antarctica. At least I think I was getting the hang of it. There were some fish who didn't survive the transport back to the station from our fishing trips. Instead of immediately disposing of them we froze them for an evening of fish printing. So, instead of serving scientific advancement these noble fish served the continuation of the Japanese and will live on in our designs. We used exclusively icefishes. Everything is set up and ready to go for the fish prints. Lisa and...
Neumayer Channel, Antarctica
We had to leave at some point. Though I still have a few more stories to tell about the work going on down there, so don't leave just yet. In fact, if there is any aspect of the work and life down here that I may not have covered, feel free to send an email - pdell [at] polartrec.com. As we headed out of the Neumayer and into the Gerlasche Strait, we were treated to a whale of a show...literally. There were a few whales hanging out. The most exciting was watching a couple of them feeding and breaching the water. As we sailed through the Neumayer Channel and the Gerlasche Straits we were treated to a breathtaking scene that included seals, seabirds, and whales. I really like the way the clouds had an orange tint from the low sun and that orange got reflected into the water. Here is...
Ernest Stelly III piloting the Laurence M. Gould
Well we are back on the boat today. It seems appropriate to talk a little bit about the people to get us there and back safely. This is a skilled job, especially navigating through all the ice down in Antarctica. Meet Ernest. Ernest Stelly III. He is a Merchant Marine Officer, 2nd Mate, unlimited. Need more explanation? Okay. That title means that he is certified to pilot any ship up to 1600 tons - Like the Gould, for example. 2nd mate means third in command. 1st mate is second in command after the captain. He is working on getting his Master's License and he will be qualified to pilot any size of ship. How he got to this spot is an interesting and unusual story and you get to hear it! Ernest is not only a skilled navigator and pilot, he is one of the best dressed as well. Every day his...
Paula takes a plunge in Antarctica
Today is the last day on Palmer Station. The Gould sails north tomorrow morning. It was beautiful with very little wind. But it was still in the 20s and felt cold. Devin and I had had plans for a few weeks to do another plunge before we left. Particularly since we didn't get any good action shots from our first plunge. However, it was cold outside and when I thought of jumping, I wasn't really feeling it. Devin wasn't feeling groove much either but he was determined to obtain proof that he swam in Antarctica - proof as in a photo. That was not an issue today. The paparazzi were out. We had three. And, as you will see, we got some nice action shots of all of us. Particularly of Ruth riding the iceberg. You met Ruth in an earlier blog. She is studying those endophytes in the seaweed. Can...
Paula in Antarctica
Well, you didn't think I could make a directional sign and not know how far it is from the Antarctic Western Peninsula and Chicago, did you? Harry helped me make this sign to go up on the directional sign post. It was a treat to go in the wood shop and take on a project and I finished in the nick of time as we sail on the 7th, weather permitting. Here is the final product. Came out pretty good, don't you think? I realized that I used a lower case m. Hope no one thinks Chicago is only 7,486 meters. Ooops. Here's the sign post down here. In a few days Chicago will be on the map in Antarctica. Here's Harry cutting away the wood for the feathers for my arrow. After my stay at Palmer, I discovered that there is nothing Harry can't do. He's a great carpenter, plays and writes music,...
Bamma Mellot in Antarctica
Antarctica is one of the harshest environments on earth. There has never been an indigenous population down here. And it's not at all easy to get too. For those reasons, relatively few people have made it down here. There are cruise ships that travel down here but those cost tens of thousands of dollars! So if you want to explore Antarctica and you don't have a lot of money (which is most of us) you have a couple options. You can become a scientist and conduct some sort of research down here or you can apply for a job down here. Between the three American research stations, there are all sorts of jobs. Bamma works in operations at Palmer. She has worked at McMurdo also. Here she is in the forklift unloading cargo from the ship There is a power plant and water plant on each station,...