Location: **In the South Pacific Ocean, near Palmer Station on the Antarctic Peninsula. **Latitude: 64° 49.3171′ S Longitude: 64° 03.3766′ W

    We awoke today to a sea full of pancakes! Pancake ice, that is. Actually, our first sea ice was encountered last night around 11:00 PM. We’ll have ice observers working around the clock now characterizing the nature of the ice we see. My shift was from 6:00 AM to noon today. We do our observations from the bridge – it was a spectacular sight early in the morning to see the ocean covered with ice. As the sun came up the colors began to change as quickly as the ice. The sky has been mostly overcast, but as we approached Palmer Station islands in the distance became illuminated by sunshine – an almost eerie sight.

    It’s obvious why this is called pancake ice!

    Snow-covered islands in the distance.

    We’ll stop at Palmer Station long enough to refill our oxygen tanks, replace damaged laboratory equipment, and buy t-shirts (believe it or not, they have a gift shop)! Meanwhile, cleanup from the fire continues. The IT department and the rest of the science support team has been taking computers apart, cleaning them, and then putting them back together – a very time-consuming task. In addition, work continues to clean equipment and set up new work spaces for the scientists whose lab spaces were destroyed in the fire.


    Lindsey cleaning one of the many on-board computers.

    As we approached Palmer Station the sun came out and in spite of cold temperature, it felt great to be out on the deck. We’ve seen several species of seals and some new birds today. Our mammal and bird expert, Brent, has even spotted a Minke whale.

    Clouds covering the mountain peaks as we approach Palmer Station.

    Time to go "gear up” for the Zodiac ride to Palmer Station. Our ship is too large to dock at Palmer, so we’ll anchor offshore and we’ll ride in a small boat (called a Zodiac) to the station.

    Later that same day… It looks like we’ll be here at least a little longer than expected. Our ship has been working to clear the ice that covers the inlet where Palmer Station’s dock is located, but the ice around the dock is too thick to be moved safely by our ship. The captain must be careful in this area – an Argentinean ship hit a rock and sank here a number of years ago. We can’t get the Zodiac in the water if the ice is too thick, and we can’t walk across the ice because it’s too thin!

    Even later that same day… We ended up launching a mini version of the Palmer this evening – the "Cajun Cruncher” – to break the ice enough to land a party on shore. The Palmer was built in Louisiana, thus the Cajun reference. It’s fun to walk around the ship and see maps and pictures of Antarctica hanging next to ones from Louisiana! The oxygen bottles were refilled and needed supplies loaded. Tomorrow we may be able to connect to their wireless network and have access to email and the Internet.