The Laurence M. Gould sailed back into the Palmer Station world last week bearing gifts from the real world - several hundreds of pounds of fresh produce! That night the meal buffet line featured a huge stainless steel bowl its interior gleaming green with crisp lettuce, brightened by offerings of crunchy sweet carrots and remarkably red and luscious tomatoes. A very welcome sight to savor, much less consume, after exhausting the last shipment of salad makings weeks ago. Sweet and succulent watermelon followed for dessert, what a treat!

As I said in my last post, Sunday mornings are normally our "day off." We awoke to an unexpectedly calm and sunny day. Although like most of the scientists, our group is out in the field sampling many days, the station staff really only has Sundays (they get the whole day off) to enjoy the surroundings. So for them in particular, having a nice Sunday is a special treat.

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Working today, in the laboratory, I came to realize that my time here, in Antarctica, grows short. I have only been here a month; now I have two weeks before departing back to Birmingham, Alabama. The time passed in the blink of an eye. I'm sure the other graduate students will feel the same, when June rolls around.

Recently I began watching the new Star Wars trilogy and there are many references to bacterial communities (metachlorian counts) in Jedis and Sith lords because they are the source of the ‘force’. This got me thinking… bacterial communities are incredibly common in the marine environment on rocks and algae, on animals, and in the water column. This is a really cool aspect of the marine environment that has become a popular area of research in marine ecology since quorum sensing was discovered. Quorum sensing is the name of a method of communication in bacterial communities where certain signaling molecules (peptides or sugars) coordinate decentralized communities in making ‘group decisions’.

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With an increasing focus on a burgeoning list of extreme weather events, elevated temperatures, and rising sea levels, ocean acidification or “the other CO2 problem”, just doesn’t get its due respect. As a marine biologist I find this puzzling. After all, most everyone enjoys the fruits of the sea: mouth-watering shrimp, crabs, lobsters, clams, and oysters. And who doesn’t thrill in donning a snorkel and mask and finning themselves over a coral reef bristling with life. Yet all over the globe these treasures of palette and eye are under increasing chemical assault.    


Palmer Station Webcam