Saturday, November 19, 2011

Endless penguins...

We just finished two days at Signy Research Station for relief work (carrying boxes of supplies and lots of wood).  All things considered, everything went smoothly because there was no sea ice to cross over, no snow to shovel and the weather cooperated and we had anticipated otherwise...

After two days of work, we had to take water jugs to a supply hut on the other side of the island.  It just so happens that near the hut is a colony of Adelie and Chinstrap penguins.  Thousands and thousands of penguins! Penguins are squished in every nook and cranny, as far as the eye can see!  Adelies and Chinstraps hanging out together, getting ready to lay their eggs. 

Although most of the time I was preoccupied with the penguins, there were still moments to appreciate the rusty red and bright orange lichens!

We are sampling the bethos again for the next 24 hours.  Then we start the journey back to the Falklands.  Supposedly rough weather is in our future... time to tie everything down and hold on tight!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Back to KEP

King Edward Point
Yesterday we went back to King Edward Point on South Georgia to drop off a few people from the science team.   The weather was awesome.  Aside from the snowy mountain caps, one could easily be fooled into thinking we were somewhere tropical.  The water was bright Caribbean green!   

Over the mountain tops we had rare, yet stunning view of lenticular clouds! They look like UFO’s hovering over the mountains.
lenticular clouds

Currently we are headed towards Signy Island, a summer British base.  Signy is one of the South Orkney Islands, just north of the Weddle Sea.  so we are crossing the Polar convergence and headed to the ‘proper’ Antarctic.   Today, the weather is not near as nice… I awoke several times last night to all of the furniture flying across the room.  We are in open waters close to the Drake Passage and are experiencing some big waves!  Now the cruise feels more like a real ‘Antarctic’ trip.  

Click here for more info on Signy.  

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Southern Ocean Poem

On the of the scientists (Paul Brewin) on board wrote an awesome poem about being on the JCR. And here it is....

JR262 Darwin cruise, thanks JCR, etc., etc.

In a wind-swept Falk-land,
The JCR is poised,
For a Voyage, a Journey,
A Darwin adventure!
South Georgia, 2011!
Full steam ahead for diversity uncharted,
The spined and the spineless are our targets.

Enter the vast Southern watery nation,
A gravity of waves and winds and fear,
And heavy with the imaginations of
Petrel’s, Prions, and the Wanderer’s eye,
Waves of Hello’s and waves of Good-bye’s,
A ghostly ‘berg, bold in her journey,
A frozen ambassador of the brave and other-worldly.

Like children over a rock pool we hover,
Sleeves rolled up, plunging in with arms and eyes and ears,
Innocent and unknowing in what we’ll discover,
This pool is deep – chalkly blue to inky black,
Agassiz, EBS, and box core grabs,
Helpless are the seastars, sponges and crabs,
Our apologies please, to your sisters and brothers,
But it is our contention that you are like no other.

What is the draw of the Southern Ocean?
Is it its rhythm, its tune, its story, its rhyme?
To flee the confine of our own wavy world and wavy times?
Whether a primeval connection,
Or unearthly devotion,
It’s the Southern Horizon that captures our stare,
And forever the JCR will take us there. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Birthday DAD!

Today a post for my Dad:  Happy Birthday from the Southern Ocean!!  Hope you have a great day celebrating!! Love you!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Back to Bird Island

So after a very busy, yet successful week of science (i.e. trawling for benthic animals), we headed back to Bird Island Research station to finish delivering cargo since the weather forecast was looking up. 

We went ashore at about 8am and the weather was stunning all day long.  Lots of sun and it was so warm the tussock grass was steaming.  In between cargo runs, we had the chance to head up to Wander’s ridge to get a glimpse of the Wandering Albatross chicks! The chicks are bigger than turkeys and are so cute, clumsy on their feet, and silly.  They can weigh up to 35 lbs!  They are over 200 days old and are getting ready to fledge.  As an adult, Wandering Albatrosses have the longest wingspan of any bird.  They will return to the colony in about 15 years and will find a mate to keep for life. 

There were also lots of smelly Gentoo penguins hopping about and territorial male fur seals barking and chasing anyone in their way.  

Today we start back for a more week of trawling and collecting!
up at Wander's Ridge

Bird Island Reseach Station

Gentoo Penguin

South Georgia Ducks

Wandering Albatross chick!


Monday, October 31, 2011

King Edward Point, South Geogria

baby elephant seal and mom

After leaving Bird Island, we headed for Kind Edward Point (KEP) to deliver more cargo and supplies.  For me, KEP meant the opportunity to go ashore and wander around.  I visited an old Norwegian whaling station, called Grytviken, Shackleton’s grave, and watched elephant seals and their new born pups. 

 Science starts tomorrow morning!  We’ll have about three to four days of sampling.  Then, we have a quick trip back to Bird Island to finish delivering cargo that we couldn’t finish before due to bad weather... and then more science sampling!

KEP base

elephant seal

old whaling ships

fur seal

male elephant seal

pair of king penguins

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Departure from the Falklands

After a few days of long travel, I arrived safe and sound Saturday afternoon in the Falkland Islands.  The ship’s departure was delayed a day, so we had all of Sunday to roam around.  We decided to walk along the coast line in search of a Gentoo penguin colony. Along the way, we came across Bertha’s Beach, which is a beautiful, white sandy, almost tropical-looking beach.  Then, after gathering a few limpet shells and other treasures, we carried on admiring geese, sheep, and awesomely scrubby plants.

Eventually we stumbled across the colony of hundreds of Gentoo’s!  As soon as we entered the colony, I knew it was one of the Gentoo colonies I visited last time I was in the Falklands (but by land rover).  They are still just as cuteand just as smelly!!      

We left Mare Harbour Monday morning for about 3 day journey to Bird Island.  Once we are there we have two days of relief work and unloading supplies before we can start our sampling.  The ship is packed to the brim with supplies and people because the JCR is first call back to some of the islands since last winter.  Currently, we’re out in the middle of the South Atlantic and we’ve seen albatrosses, petrels, charismatic mega-fauna (i.e. dolphins & whales) and some big waves!