30 June 2007

Close calls with glaciers

Hi All,
The videos below were shot near Palmer Station by a friend back on April 23rd. The research vessel Nathaniel B. Palmer was approximately a kilometer from the glacier edge when it began to calve...and then it didn't stop calving. It actually washed large junks of ice onto the deck and caved in the side of a large metal shipping container. Fortunately everyone made it off the aft deck in time, and no one was injured.

23 June 2007

Winter Solstice

Mid-Winter has come and gone, as has the LMG, which left Palmer on 18 June, taking with it a lot of really good folks who are going to be missed here. The mid-winter greetings which get sent from every station are filling up my email Inbox, and I want to collect them all and post them on to Picasa soon. The photo at left is the one we sent out to all the other Antarctic winter-over folks, and I believe it's one of the best I've seen so far, though I may be a bit biased. Tonight we had our Mid-winter Dinner, and celebrated in style.

12 June 2007

It's Been a Hard Days Night...

...and I've been workin' on my blog. Long days/nights with little time for updating the blog, and lots has happened since the Vernadsky trip. The science season is winding down as the days get shorter, and my last science group, B-022, leaves station on Monday, 18 June. Last Saturday I helped dive tend for them on their last dive of the season. We went out to the wreck of the Bahia Paraiso, an Argentinian resupply vessel which sank near Palmer Station in 1989, releasing approximately 170,000 gallons of fuel into Arthur Harbor. The port side of its hull actually sticks out of the water a bit during sea surges (see above), and the divers wanted to make a last dive to collect one species of finger sponge which, amazingly, grows on the Bahia and creates a natural product which has shown great promise in treating certain forms of cancer. This is a little strange when you consider that the picture directly above is of a sheen of fuel on the water (with snowflakes falling) which still leaches out of the Bahia. Members of B-022 (a link to their website is at right) are from the University of Alabama and the University of Southern Florida. They specialize in natural product chemistry and chemical ecology, and some members have been doing research at Palmer for over 25 years. They've been a great bunch to work with and going dive tending is one of my favorite things to do here. I'll miss them when they leave.
Yesterday the Laurence M. Gould arrived for a week long visit. It brought down the last three of our winter-over staff, and will take everyone else back to Puenta Arenas when it leaves. Our station population will be going down to sixteen until September, when the next boat arrives. Between now and then I've got plenty to do in preparation for the next summer science season. Meantime, I've got a couple of old friends here on station who I haven't seen in years, so it's been great catching up with them before they leave next week.
Lastly, on 6 June I had a teleconference w
ith a 2nd grade class at the school where my partner, Gwen, teaches. Clifford School is a Marine Science magnet school in Redwood City, and coincidentally, I supervise the Mary Alice McWhinnie Marine Science Laboratory here at Palmer, so one of the science teachers, Ms. Cleeves, was very interested in having me talk to the students about Antarctica. They asked very good questions about pinnipeds, global climate change, the number of penguins I've seen, and of course, "how cold is it there?" Here they are pictured at left, with a picture board in the background that Gwen made for the class depicting some of the sights that I've seen since I've been here.