Sunday, April 1, 2007
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Punta Arenas and me. I've been a little stir crazy for about three
days now. Ever since I was little, I always felt uncomfortable
without having a schedule, without something to do. You could ask my
mom, Sundays used to be my least favorite day of the week. I am
starting to feel like I have had one too many Sundays in a row.
Two days ago I got off the night shift. Within 200 nautical miles of
Chile we have to turn off all data collectors because there is some
kind of permit the vessel and Chile need to do scientific studies.
We turned off all of these systems yesterday. No more schedule. No
more ping editing. It has been quite the struggle to get back onto a
normal schedule. The first night I went to bed at 2 am and woke up
again at about 4:45 am. I couldn't fall back to sleep until sometime
after lunch. Then I slept until 3 pm. What an attempt at a normal
schedule! Last night I tried again. I went to bed at about midnight
and woke up again at 3:30 am. Hmmph. That's no good. I got back to
sleep at about 7 am and slept until 3pm! Whoops again! Hopefully
tonight I will be able to get closer to normal. I have two more
nights until I am back at school and back in class. I might not be
sleeping well because I am so excited to get home. As you all read
in the beginning of this blog, that was my problem when I was getting
ready to leave the U.S. My brain just doesn't want to stop turning
Today we (as in Steph, the roommate, Jeremy, the Marine Tech, and I)
went out on the bow. The seas have been pretty rough, and we have
been rolling quite a bit. When we stood out on the bow (the very
front of the ship), the waves were so huge that the ship would slam
down into the water and splash water all over us. It was so fun and
surprisingly not that cold either! The more north we go, the warmer
it has gotten. We were at an amazing 9ºC today! I haven't been this
warm in months. It's now getting to the excessively warm stage.
Since we are no longer doing any research, all of the doors have been
closed all day. This makes for a very very warm inner ship
experience. Woooh! Everyone has stripped to their t-shirts and
jeans from long underwear, long sleeve shirts, fleeces, and carhart
overalls. I can only imagine how shocked my body will be when I get
back to the sunny spring in Colorado.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
heading north from the Antarctic Peninsula. We are nearing the Drake
Passage and heading toward the western entrance of Punta Arenas. We
have a maximum of five days left, but the people who man the ship
believe that we will be in to port in four days.
Yesterday morning we experienced our last little piece of research.
We stopped to pick up a mooring. A mooring is a device connected to
big floating buoy type things that collects information on density,
salinity (concentration of salt), and temperature over a long period
of time. It's just like doing a CTD, but a research left the mooring
in the water for a year or so. I wasn't awake for the recovery of
this mooring, but I had seen it earlier in the trip. It's actually a
pretty neat little machine. When we recover the mooring, we have to
communicate with it through shooting out beams of sound. The little
machine hears us talking to it, and it talks back to us. It tells us
where it is, whether it's working, and if it is on the bottom of the
ocean or on the surface. It's also very good for learning more about
an annual shift in temperature and water composition. Due to
Antarctica's harsh climates, I doubt people would want to come out to
ocean in the middle of winter to find out about temperature and
Well, I haven't been up to much else. We have been watching a lot of
movies because all of the researchers don't really have anything left
to do. I am working from 8pm to 4am now. I get up at noon and hang
out with people, watching movies, playing games, and just talking (oh
and working on some independent study homework). Then I work for a
few hours. I seem like I have less time now than I did while I was
working 12 hours shifts even though I have been sleeping less. This
lack of time is probably just due to me having way too much fun!
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
more days of research, and then we are off to the Drake Passage.
This the small area between the Antarctic Peninsula and the
southernmost tip of Chile. There are 12 days left of the cruise and
13 until I get back to Colorado. That is as long as we get back in
time for me to catch my plane. The ship should be arriving into port
in Punta Arenas at 8 am on Monday, March 26th, but my flight leaves
Punta Arenas at 12:40pm. That would give me four hours and forty
minutes to get going! I guess we will just have to wait (attempting
at patience here) and see if the Drake Passage is kind enough to let
me pass quickly.
We've seen quite a few seals as of late. It is pretty sad to watch
them realize a huge ship is coming at them. I don't think we have
hurt any seals, whales, or penguins, but I can't help but worry about
how this vessel affects their lives. Penguins are very curious, so
when we come at them, they like to stare at us for awhile. When they
finally realize that a HUGE ship is coming at them and won't move
around them, they have to "run" or flop down on their bellies and try
their hardest to get into the water in a hurry. It's traumatic I am
sure. There have been a few seals that were protecting their
territory and hissing at the ship while it passed. That is somewhat
funny, but also sad to think about. These animals are not accustomed
to humans being around, invading their area. I really hope that
Antarctic science works for their environment, instead of against.
Speaking of hurting animals, a whole bunch of krill got stuck in a
pump in the engine room. Krill are little shrimp like creatures.
They are probably related to shrimp, crabs, animals like those. I
think they may be arthropods. I am not sure. That's only if I
remember biology from sophomore year of high school correctly. Oh
Mr. Devan, I have failed you! Anyway, there were dozens of them
sucked up into this pump. There are thousands of tons out in the
ocean though. I believe sperm and blue whales eat krill. These
whales don't have teeth like an Orca whale, but they have strainer
like teeth where small little critters get stuck. So in a way sperm
whales eat like cows--constantly, and orcas eat like predators--the
hunt. Pretty cool that there are so many different new things going
on down here!
After nearly two months, I am really starting to miss good fresh
food. I really want a salad right now, and maybe some fresh fruits
and vegetables. Obviously, you can't keep fresh fruit on a ship for
very long. I should have appreciated what I had on land more! This
has happened to me before, my freshman year of college. I didn't
realize what amazing cooks my mom, grandma, aunts were until I left
their kitchens and ate in a cafeteria for 9 months straight. There
are so many things that I am craving. I can't wait to get home and
have some good food from the cafeteria at school. HAHA!
Thursday, March 8, 2007
was proven wrong. Wednesday consisted of some of the most fantastic
hours in my life. At the end of my shift on Wednesday morning
someone knocked on my door to tell my roommate and I to get ready to
go out on the ice. We got into all of our cold weather gear (red
parka, long underwear, wool socks, nylon "bibs," bunny boots,
mittens, hats, hard hats and all). Once we got downstairs and
outside we were lifted by a winch off of the ship and onto a HUGE ice
floe. There was ice as far as the eye could see. This was a
multiyear floe of sea ice (ice formed from ocean water, NOT ice shelf
icebergs) that had accumulated over the past few winters and never
had the chance to melt yet. Once all twelve of us got out on the
ice, we took ice cores. I am sure you have heard of a core where
someone uses a tool to dig long cylinders out of the earth. Ice
coring is pretty much the same. We use a long hollow cylindrical
tool with threading on the outside like a screw to drill into the
ice. It is designed so that when we pull the tool back out, it holds
the ice in it. It doesn't let it fall back out. There are so many
fascinating little inventions in science!
I have no idea how cold it was out on the ice, but I got chilled
pretty quickly (I was on the ice for about an hour). To think people
spend their lives studying in cold, windy, icy, snowy, blindingly
sunny places like Antarctica! I don't know if I have the drive. I
do love it though.
I was part of the first group of four who went back onto the ship.
As soon as I was in the air again, I turned around and saw that two
Adelie penguins were curious enough to move within 50 meters of the
two groups who stayed behind. I almost exploded with jealousy and
regret! Oh if I hadn't gotten so cold! The little penguins were so
cute and shiny. They just sat in the wind and watched the groups
collect ice cores. What an experience.
Last night (Wednesday) at about 1am, one of the vessel drivers
noticed an Aurora! The Auroras in the south are called Aurora
Australias (in opposition of Aurora Borealis in the north). I don't
think I quite understand Auroras well enough to explain them, so I
would advise those of you who do not know what an Aurora is or how
it's formed to look it up in the dictionary. It was a very slight
little green light about 40º up from the horizon in the north. It
jumped around, appeared, and disappeared quite sporadically. I never
thought in my whole life that I would see the "southern lights." I
am the luckiest person I know!
One last note. This is how absolutely lucky I am; yesterday I heard
someone say that it takes $50,000 to run this ship DAILY! Meaning
that on a 51 day trip 2,550,000 dollars are spent by the National
Science foundation just to run the ship! Outrageous!
Right now we are off the continental shelf near Wrigley Gulf and the
Getz Ice Sheet. We are headed east and somewhat on our way back home.
Latitude: -072º 58'.556 S
Longitude: -129º 04'.548 W
Saturday, March 3, 2007
a CTD today at about 2780 meters. At this depth (probably any depth
over 1000m) the pressure of the water is so great that it pushes all
of the air out of anything that goes down. We drew with sharpies on
styrofoam cups and then sent them down attached to the CTD in a net
laundry bag. When they came back up they were about a third the
size! It's really neat. I am sure you could do this in any ocean at
a depth greater than a 1000m, but I think this is one of the coolest
fun discoveries we've had so far. When you are stuck on a boat being
serious 7 days a week for 12 hour shifts you have to find neat things
like this to de-stress and rejuvenate your mind.
A couple of nights ago the tip of an erasable marker fell off so we
glued it to my nose and drew on whiskers and cat ears to make me a
kitty. One of the MTs (Marine Technician) came in and started
cracking up. Everyone got a kick out of that. So we drew him a big
unibrow to make him a cave man because he has messy hair and a big
beard. My roommate, Steph who is gorgeous and blonde, got a mustache
and a "soul patch." We all laughed so hard we had to walk out of the
room to look at something other than each other. I was surprised at
what a great reaction we got from everyone, even the serious head
researcher types. Like I said, everyone needs a little break from
being serious all the time in order to appreciate what they have.