The day I prepared to leave Palmer Station, I took a final glimpse from my dorm window at the splendid architecture of the glacier. I finally had an opportunity to climb the glacier and walk to its far side, days before I left. Crossing the field of boulders in the back yard, separating Palmer Station from the glacier, was a long walk. I eventually reached the glacier and began my ascent, aided by the spikes I affixed to my boots for stability on the ice. I climbed higher and higher; soon, Palmer Station was barely visible.

Scuba diving is a central part of our research here. We call it "Dive Ops" which is short for Diving Operations. All our experimental manipulations on this project are done in the lab but since the organisms we are studying live along the bottom of the ocean (described then as benthic organisms), Dive Ops are critical in order to collect them and their food. Today Julie and I needed to dive to collect food for the amphipods (shrimp-like animals) that she is working with in the lab and also some more amphipods for upcoming experiments.

The change in seasons always includes a turnover from summer to winter station crews. Before ship sailing, both the station and crew of the Laurence M. Gould gather together to share one last meal before roam apart. We call this cross town dinner, and usually it's a pizza feast with pies in all shapes and flavors as well as a contribution from the boat. Most summer crew people are ecstatic to head north, and they better start swimming or they'll sink like a stone, for the times they are a changin'.

Because I have both conducted research at Palmer Station and been a lecturer aboard an Antarctic cruise ship that regularly visits the station, I have a unique perspective on the logistics, challenges, and inherent value of these station visits by citizens from around the world.

As Maggie and others have mentioned previously, one of the species I am working with this season is an omnivorous amphipod species, Gondogeneia antarctica (Gondo for short). Just as a quick reminder, these are the highly active and (if you ask me) charismatic microfauna that live on the big-branched brown algae (Desmarestia species) down here in large numbers.


Palmer Station Webcam