KeinvatTitrator
My time here in Antarctica continues to be one of the most remarkable trips of my life. The fieldwork, environment, and life at Palmer Station are great experiences. Here we have a great community with a diverse array of people, research endeavors, and areas of expertise. We have social activities after work, such as movies, science talks, and even games of dominoes. The people here are a select few. The cheerful exuberance of everyone is contagious. There are always smiles on faces and the warm feeling of home.

Kevin LEAVING PAsmall
In Punta Arenas, Chile on Tuesday February 12th, the members of UAB 2013 Antarctic field team awaited departure to our final destination: Palmer Station, Antarctica. The ship taking us was the 250 foot long, ASRV (Antarctic Survey and Resupply Vessel) Laurence M. Gould, designed to traverse the cold southern ocean and Antarctic ice. We walked around the ship’s deck taking pictures of our surroundings. The other members of the team reminisced about field seasons prior and their wonderful experiences. I looked around at their faces and was filled with an eager anticipation of things to come.

MountainSunnyViewDSC 3662280px
Light is a pretty essential source of energy that most people don’t often think about until seasons change. At Palmer Station we have long days with high light levels when we begin our field season (late summer) and the sun goes down after 10 PM. Because of this we were lucky enough to see the green flash two nights in a row this year after work while the ARSV Laurence M. Gould was still here. Now the night is coming faster, and fall is quickly settling in. Near the end of our field season in June, day length will be about four hours of daylight much of which is not direct sunlight.

MaggieKateCheckout1-smaller
Our dive season in Antarctica has officially begun!

Gersemia.deposit.feeding
My former doctoral student, Marc Slattery, now a Professor at Ole Miss, could not believe his eyes. The giant tree-like soft coral, Gersemia antarctica, seen on the time-lapse video he had just recovered, had laid its trunk down against the substrate and rolled its polyp-laden branches in a complete circle! As thousands of tiny feeding polyps (tentacled projections) encountered the nutrient-rich muck, they engulfed organic particles, small plant-like diatoms, and tiny invertebrates. Like sheep grazing in a field, once the foraging circle was completed it was time to move on to greener pastures. The soft coral stood back up and moved across the seafloor by contracting the bulbous root-like base of its trunk. When it had moved to a new region of the seafloor, it laid itself back down, and commenced feeding again.

palmer glacier jm REDUCED
I am anchoring from home base this field season, remaining at UAB while the field team digs in at Palmer Station. I will be busy assisting Chuck submit an NSF grant proposal that will keep our Antarctic program moving forward, assisting Julie submit a manuscript on the impacts of ocean acidification on marine invertebrates from work she did last year, and giving presentations and book signings for my recently released Lost Antarctica – Adventures in a Disappearing Land (www.lostantarctica.com). 

JulieVisitors1
If you have been checking out the Palmer Station webcam (http://www.usap.gov/videoclipsandmaps/palWebCam.cfm) recently you may have noticed that we have been having a wide variety of visitors lately. The type of visitor and duration of stay have varied greatly, mostly the length of stay has depended on the weather. Our visitors have ranged from a 12 meter (39.4 ft) long sailboat to giant icebergs and small cruise ships.

SantiagoAirport
After spending a couple of days of figuring out what I will need for the next four and a half months and how to make it fit into two duffle bags, I found myself excitedly sitting inside my screen door with all my gear when Chuck and Maggie showed up to start the caravan to the airport.

MaggiePalmerSignBoard
UAB in Antarctica’s initial days on station were a frenzy of unpacking science gear into labs and tossing personal gear into an assigned dorm room while simultaneously packing and prepping for our dive cruise time on the Pt. Sur which was described in Chuck’s last entry. It was a hectic stretch and everyone was ready for our first official day off since leaving Punta Arenas. Sunday morning until 1PM is the project’s weekly “day” off (yes, fuzzy math). Team members took the opportunity to finally get settled and comfy in their rooms and for first-time Palmerite Kevin Scriber, the opportunity to fully explore his new home.

Quarry2013a
Ever get a song stuck in your head that you had not thought about or even heard for years?? That is what happened to me the other day as I was sitting on a wood planked dock at Alabama Blue Water. My black finned feet were dangling in the quarry waters as the twangy tones of Gene Autry, the singing cowboy, drifted into my head.   “I’m back in the saddle again” is how the legendary vocalist sang it but the little singer between my ears substituted drysuit for saddle. That little singer must not have known all the lyrics as broken record-like just that line was sung over and over again….

GroupAscoseira-verysmall
I suppose that anyone who has once been with a hero would always want to be with one again. From 1968 until 1984, Palmer Station and US Antarctic research on the Antarctic Peninsula was supported by a beautiful 125 ft. in length, wooden research vessel called the Hero. Maggie sailed on the Hero during her first two seasons at Palmer in the early 80s and I was at the ship's decommissioning ceremony in California in 1984. You can see more about the Hero at the Hero page on PalmerStation.com.