Patrick Robinson at the Eastern Weddell Sea, Antarctica-- The main purpose of this RRS Shackleton expedition is to study the oceanography of the Weddell Sea. To do this, researchers from the British Antarctic Survey deploy instruments on mooring lines (see previous blog posting), but also complete point samples by lowering instruments deep into the ocean from the ship. The CTD (conductivity, temperature, depth) recorder as well as current profilers are the basic tools of oceanographers and provide information about a profile of the water column.
Luis Huckstadt at Cape Shirreff, Antarctica-- It's been very busy at the Cape these last couple of weeks. The daily routine hasn't changed that much from the previous report, but the workload has not decreased a bit! We continue with our daily flipper tag resights of Antarctic fur seals along the coast of the Cape. We're trying to make sure that we count them accurately, as well as trying to figure out if the moms still have their pups. Fur seals seem to be really good moms, and keep track of their pups really well.
Patrick Robinson on the eastern Weddell Sea--The science that goes on during a research cruise is always exciting, but what is it like living aboard a research vessel for weeks at a time?
Northern elephant seals, Mirounga angustirostris, are one of TOPP’s champion species. Over 370 e-seals have been tagged, enabling biologists at TOPP to learn an incredible amount about the mysteries of the North Pacific Ocean.
A satellite tagged Northern elephant seal swimming in the waters off Año Nuevo State Reserve. Photo: Dan Costa.
Patrick Robinson from somewhere near the South Orkney Islands -- Today, chief scientist Keith Nicholls and his team from the British Antarctic Survey recovered a pair of oceanographic moorings that were deployed two years ago. First, we traveled to the exact location the mooring was deployed. The mooring line and instruments sit well below the surface and stretch all the way to the bottom, some 3,000 meters below.
Patrick Robinson at Signy Island, South Orkneys -- We made it through the drake passage with very calm seas and have arrived at our first stop, a British research base on Signy Island (part of a small group of islands called the South Orkneys). We are dropping off a few biologists and will return for them after the oceanographic and seal-tagging work in a few weeks.
Luis Huckstadt at Cape Shirreff, Antarctica--Days at the camp are pretty busy, and it's really interesting. We start our work day early, heading out for Antarctic fur seal tag resights, or searching for flipper tags. These are little tags, on squirmy seals, so it usually takes most of our morning. Besides resighting tags, we count individuals which can be complicated in cold places like the Antarctica! On chilly days, seals tuck their flippers under their bodies to conserve body heat, making our mission of reading their flipper tags quite the challenge!
Patrick Robinson in the Drake Passage, Southern Ocean -- After a spectacular sunset, we set sail yesterday and are currently halfway to Signey Island, a British research base. The seas are very calm (a mere 6 - 8 ft swell), but several folks on board are tucked away in their bunks due to motion sickness. The rest of us have been using this transit time to prepare instruments and help the crew cook and clean. Yesterday I peeled ~80 pounds of potatoes!
Here are a few photos from the past couple of days:
Sunset over Port Stanley, Falkland Islands
Patrick Robinson at Port Stanley, Falkland Islands--The crew and scientists have all arrived in Port Stanley, Falkland Islands to board the RRS Shackleton and start a 2-month research cruise down to the Antarctic. If all goes well, we will be deploying 10 tags on Weddell seals in the Weddell Sea to study their movements, diving behavior, and the oceanographic environment.
So far, we have been preparing our gear, stocking up on last-minute supplies, and strapping everything down for the rough journey ahead.
Nicole Teutschel at UC Santa Cruz, Long Marine Lab--Today Luis Huckstadt boarded the massive icebreaker US-chartered Russian ship R/V Yuzhmorgeologiya to start his 3-4 day journey across the Drake Passage into wild Antarctica. Luis, a PhD student in Dan Costa’s Lab, is embarking on a major expedition to the frigid, unforgiving Antarctic waterways: home to some of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth.