Friday, January 21, 2011

Re: wow

12:03 GMT 61�26.93 S 055�35.25 W
We have diverted from our original plan. We are currently hiding out
by the north side of Gibbs Island. There is a grid of 112 stations
(waypoints) where we plan to tow the net and collect samples and data
with the CTD. The plan was to follow a zig-zag pattern across the
northwestern and northern portion of the grid (north of the South
Shetland Islands and in the Elephant Island area) then do the same for
the southern grid (in the Bransfield Strait, south of the South
Shetland Islands). But a storm was forecast to move eastward into the
northern grid in a few days, so we set a course for 62�02 S, 057�24 W
which was to be our first station in the southern grid. However, the
wind and swell coming out of the southeast put a stop to the sampling
and we are now in a holding pattern. Things are very comfortable here
in the lee of Gibbs Island.

By yesterday afternoon we had completed 22 of 112 stations, were on a
record pace, and one day was blending into the next. I'm becoming more
familiar with the organisms in the "large fractions" (those we pick
out, count, and identify without microscopes)--salps, krill and other
euphasids, amphipods, a few species of snails and worms, and the
occasional lanternfish. The "small fraction" consists mostly of
copepods, larval euphasids, and larval fish. I'm learning to identify
the most common copepods and larvae. I'm pretty slow, and trying to
look through a microscope while the ship is rocking does not help, so
I mostly work with the large fractions.

On our way here from the northern grid, we passed by many icebergs,
and five of six pods of penguins (probably not the correct term for a
group of penguins, but the alliteration sounds nice) swimming along.
They look somewhat like dolphins when they swim except that they jump
clear of the water much more frequently. We are still in the company
of 20 to 100 cape petrels and a few albatrosses and other petrel

I'm going to step outside and take some more pictures. Happy Birthday,

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