Last night (or mid-afternoon, for folks on a diurnal schedule), we turned the corner at station 2-14, just past the tip of Graham Land, at the western entrance to the Weddell Sea. The ice here was thicker, mixed multi-year globs lost in an ice fog that never quite made good on its promise to clear. It was the kind of ice that looked more like what people think of when they think “iceberg”; nothing that the Palmer couldn’t handle, but slow going, picking our way through open water where we could.
This was, for AMLR, as far south as we were going to go. From here, it’s only northbound, to pick up another dozen and a half stations in the gap bounded by the peninsula and the eastern edge of the Shetlands. Then? Home. North again, two or three days across the Drake and back through the Straits of Magellan to arrive back in Punta Arenas “on or about the 18th of September”. So hard to believe that in just over a week this little adventure will be over.
In the meantime, Science continues unabated. Down in aft dry lab, the krill counters continue to pore over shallow trays of pink squirmy things. “See?” Adrian picks up a squishy little transparent bishop’s miter with her forceps, “Siphonophora. That’s his siphon, right there.” And that one is Polymoma robusta. “It’s Greek for ‘all your mommas are so fat…'” Meanwhile, Patricia’s picking out miniscule little pteropods – yes, snails with wings – from an adjacent tray. “Here – play with this guy!” and I find a chaetognath draped over my finger. Fascinating. Terrifying.
Speaking of fascinating and terrifying, Emilio (our fish guy) found a lovely fish parasite attached to one of his samples. Sort of like an aquatic version of the face-hugger from Alien, except that it doesn’t bother going for the mouth. This guy burrows his long, grappling-hook-shaped proboscis right through the side of his host and digs for nourishment. As our ever-quotable says, Remember: when you enter the water, you enter the food chain. No, I’m not going to post a picture – some people might be reading this over breakfast.
Reminds me of Homer Simpson
When I’m not across the hall bothering our biologists or outside gawking at rare breaks in the weather, I’m mostly lost in code. It’s been a while since I’ve done any serious coding and I’ve got to say, it’s kind of fun to exercise those mental muscles again. No desire to go back to it as a full time job (sorry!), but it was a pleasant sensation to feel the old moves coming back and remember, yeah, I used to be pretty good at this stuff…
“X” marks where we’re *not* gonna go
We try to steer around stuff like this