28 May 2007

Vernadsky Station

Hi All,
I'm just back from playing Group Leader on a two day trip to Vernadsky Station, located south of Palmer. Over the past five years or so, a group of Palmer residents get to go once a year to Vernadsky aboard the LMG on a goodwill tour. We bring them freshies, liquor, smokes, and various Palmer related souvenirs like Palmer patches, Palmer pint glasses, Palmer medals, etc., and in exchange they give us Vernadsky patches, Vernadsky commemorative coins, Vernadsky vodka, etc. Point is, all of the gift giving in the world can't compare to the gift of seeing new faces, especially here on the Ice. And especially if you're working at a Ukrainian base.

Last year, there were some awkward USAP moments during the visit, or so I've heard. This year, the only awkward moment was telling Base Commander Victor that we had to leave, after only 1.5 hours on station. Long story, but the short story is Palmer Station residents will most likely be doing another goodwill visit next year...

22 May 2007

Back from Fishing

As anyone who knows me well can attest, I love to fish. Usually I use a fly or spin rod, but in this case I used an icebreaker, trawl nets, and fish pots while assisting Dr. Sidell's group in their attempt to catch several different species of icefish for their research. We worked on 12-hour shifts, and I was placed on nights, when the catch is usually better. We mainly stayed in an area north of Palmer Station called Dallman Bay, about 8 hours away from station. Using a 15 meter trawl net, we let the net drop down to the bottom (about 150-200 meters), and then trawled for about a half hour. Then the net was hauled on deck and the contents were released. We quickly sorted through all of the starfish, octopi, krill, seaweed, and other bycatch (pictured above), searching for the elusive icefish that are the subject of Bruce's work. We didn't catch as many fish as we had hoped for, but we caught enough to make the trip worthwhile. There was beautiful scenery for the entire trip, especially an amazing rock formation called the Needle of the Astrolabe.
This formation is approximately 100 meters in height, and immediately catches your eye from a distance of about 3K. At first I thought it was some sort of illusion, like a Fata Morgana, but it's the real deal.
We had good weather for most of the trip, but one night there were winds up to about 30 knots, and high seas. I'm glad that I don't easily get seasick.
On this trip I caught six octopi, one gigantic sea spider, and a

very beautiful purple/pink sea star, all of which are currently living in the tourist aquarium here at Palmer Station. Pictured at port are the starfish and octopi in a five gallon bucket onboard the LMG.

17 May 2007


Today I am leaving Palmer Station aboard the Laurence M. Gould for a three day fishing cruise with Dr. Bruce Sidell and his group. We'll be about 8 hours away from Palmer using trawl nets and pots to catch a species of fish which does not use hemoglobin to carry oxygen. This is a unique evolutionary adaptation that Bruce and his group are experimenting with. More on this when I return. I've been really busy here, and haven't had much time to write over the past couple of weeks, but all is well.

Check out this link to an Esquire interview with our station doctor, Shawn. He's so mis-quoted here. Hilarious: