These last two weeks at
Palmer have be fabulous! Palmer is a fabulous station that's like
no other place I've visited. The small number of people working at
Palmer give it a real comfortable feel, almost like a field camp.
Yet the fact that Palmer is an established station means that life is really
plush. Don't get me wrong, I loved being in field camps, regardless
if they didn't had showers or or if there were limited supplies of food,
but to take the best parts of a station and package it on such a small
scale is wonderful.
The best thing that happened in
the last few weeks was that I got an extension on my time in Antarctica
and am being allowed to stay an extra two weeks!
So far at Palmer I've been primarily
working with one of the Palmer LTER teams that's based out of Scripps Institution
of Oceanography, back in San Diego. Twice a week we go out sampling
the water in a Zodiac. A typical sample day includes bring back water
from various depths, performing a CTD cast and completing a plankton grab.
Both the water collection and CTD aspects are similar to the work I did
last January in the Dry Valleys. A detailed explanation of them can
be found in my 13-20 January entry. As for the plankton grab, that
was completed by lowering a net in the water, down to maybe 30 meters (it
changed every time) and pulling it to the surface. On the end of
the net there was a cod end which is just a plastic container that collected
the water and plankton in the water as the net was pulled to the surface.
Once we completed our samples
at two stations, we'd return to the station where the samples are prepared
for further analysis. All the water is filter so that all the plankton
in the water is caught on filter disks. That way, instead of storing
5 liters of water, the team can instead store a small disk about the size
of a quarter. Also, the water from the plankton drag is treated and
slides are prepared so that a visual examination of the plankton can be
Although I work mainly with this
scientific team, I also got the opportunity to work with the bird group
that studies the different winged species around Palmer station.
The day I went out they were working on Adelie penguins. Which was
awesome because I was able to do some hands on learning about a species
of penguin I had been seeing a lot of both at McMurdo and Palmer.
Another group I worked with was
the Krill group. Most of their time is spent in their Zodiac performing
acoustic transects, looking for schools of Krill. They basically
use a sonar system that looks for biological masses. Going out with
them was interesting since there's not much physical labor to be done,
it's more always having to pay attention and monitor computer screens (which
can be very difficult if there are rough seas).
The last science group I had the
opportunity to work with was a group from William's of Mary College, that
was investigating pollutants in various biological median including plankton,
water, ice, soil, and even dead animals.
Since it's the end of the season
and science is slowly coming to a close at Palmer, these are the only science
groups working now. In the next few weeks I hope to work with different
Raytheon employees so that I can get the Antarctic experience from all