Tuesday, November 24, 2009

November 22nd Critters all around

Take a morning walk around station to do the rounds to make sure the pier hasn't collapsed in or there isn't a strange ship that came up in the middle of the night to rest against our shores, checking for no water leaks and making sure the Refer Milvans are running as it houses and keeps our frozen food very cold.  Always watching  and checking.  This this morning bought surprises.  Not unlike bunnies in your front yard or a owl whos come to perch for the morning.  Ours were just a tad different.

A juvenile Elephant seal crawled his way up our boat ramp to take a little snooze.  I sat there while she snored.

Then was walking around to the other side of the station when I heard some commotion.  A Gentoo Penguin was taking a refuge on our rocky shore. 

Then after I took a few shots and strolled on, I heard an anouncement over the radio a Minke whale had been spotted just off of where the Gentoo's where at.  I didn't get a picture of it, but here's one from a past encounter...

That is all for today...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

November 20th

Friday the 20th November, brought us a surprise. We had a visit of one of our favorite cruise ships', the National Geographic Explorer. The crew really have it together for the guests on board their ship. The expedition leaders are always top notch and have so much information that they share passionately. When cruise ships come to Palmer station, we get a team together to go out to the ship and do a Science update on what science we are doing within the United States Antarctic Program, sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The team usually consists of the Station Manager, the Science Manager and a group picked to go over and answer any questions that the Ship's guests have. It is very rewarding as you get to meet so many interesting people.

National Geographic Explorer and visiting yacht Spirit of Sydney

This trip to Palmer, brought a very interesting and modest individual. Neil Armstrong along with his wife were among the passengers, when they came to station we were able to get a group photo with them. Later in the evening he was going to give a talk on board the ship. We were invited and got to go listen to this man who has led a life of pure adventure.

Neil's lecture was about Captain Cook and the dis-similarities between the search for a new world (Antarctica unknown if it really existed at that time)to setting foot on a new world we could see(the Moon). There is a link I'm including that has much of what Neil talked about. I felt honored to be invited to listen to the talk and so wanted to touch his left foot (the foot the stepped first on the Moon), but wanted to respect his space (literally) so I refrained from that endeavor.

This link takes you to the site of Captain Cook's exploration and how it was his discoveries made it easier for space flight knowing the distances...
Captain Cook's discoveries
I also met up with old friends whom I've known for years coming to the Antarctic Peninsula. Ian Bullock, Ron Naveen and Melissa Rider have at one time or another ran a field camp at Peterman Island where there is an Adelie colony and a Gentoo colony. They belong to the Oceanites research group and have been studying the penguins there for quite awhile. I'll post their webiste also as it has beautiful pictures of Peterman and surrounding scenery. I've been lucky to visit this wonderful spot.
Zee, Ian and Ron

Melissa's birthday cake with the Explorer behind in the sunset


Update on average Palmer Temperature this week as been about 32F.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

November 15th news

Palmer Station is starting to see more sun, as the ice and snow trickle a path to the ocean, we are starting to see more and more rocks appear on our little spit of Anvers Island of the coast of the Antarctic peninsula.
This past week brought many changes.

On November 15th today was a day off for Palmer Station. The sun was shining, the winds were calm and it was a chance for some folks to get out away from station and enjoy the water, the icebergs, the penguins or just snowshoeing at the old Palmer site which is now known as Amsler Island. I saw my first penguin egg today. The Adelies are just starting to lay eggs. Incubation takes about 30 days and by the middle of December we'll start seeing baby chicks.

Adelie Colony on Torgersen Island

A Gentoo Penguin wandering around in Adelie territory...

I had a few moments of listening to the water gently lap at the shore, the squawking of the adelies and the mighty deep throat belch coming from the elephant seas and the except for shutters of cameras of others taking pictures of the wildlife around me, it was heaven.

A grounded Iceberg off of Torgersen Island

November 11th:
We had a change of command from Rebecca Shoop who is the Palmer Peninsula Area Director to Robert (Bob) Farrell who is the Palmer and Marine area Director. Long titles which mean they have very important jobs, but one of the fun ones they get is to come to Palmer and be the station manager for snippets at a time. The changing of the guard happened yesterday as the National Geographic Explorer came to station, dropped Bob off and picked up Rebecca to get her started on her journey back to the States. I show them together standing on the pier observing Zodiac deployment of a group of people going out for the Rutgers Glider launch.

On November 11th some of us were able to go out in zodiacs to watch the launching of a 7' long unmanned ocean diving glider from Rutgers. It is on it's maiden voyage to travel to Rothera Station which is about 200 miles away. The glider has an air bladder in it that controls it's diving and rising capability. It glids at a specific angle towards a set point that is determined by the headquarters at Rutgers. Then it's bladder reverses and pumps air back into the nose and it rises back towards the surface and then proceeds this "Bladder full, bladder empty" back and forth and it sails underwater like a glider in the air. There are specific instruments in the glider to detect different information about the water, temperature, salinity and current. It will help determine much we don't know about the Antarctic waters. Where are the warmer waters coming from and does the salinity change when you get closer to the continent with the glacial melt water.