As you have read in Chuck and Kevin’s latest journals, Palmer Station has had a facial. Lots of new faces appeared with the arrival of our support ship the Laurence M. Gould. Similarly, many a familiar, ‘old’ face sailed off into the fog when the Gould headed north last week. Like Kevin, I reflect bitter sweetly at the thought of those who are no longer with us in the tangible sense. In solace, I am warmed by mental images of their caring eyes, cheering smiles, mischievous grins or boisterous laughs that remain omnipresent on station.
Quietly included amongst the new members of the Palmer community is Dan Martin. He not only joins the Palmer community for a career tenth time, he also joins our research team. Bill Baker hired Dan to spend this next 6 weeks at Palmer helping with the project research and diving.
Dan and I first met while he was an undergraduate student at University of California Santa Barbara. I was working on an Antarctic krill project headed by Robin Ross and Langdon Quetin. (I introduced this wife-husband team in a previous entry.) Dan was among a large undergraduate applicant pool for a few volunteer research positions on a 1987 winter cruise in Antarctic waters dubbed WinCruiseII. I remember interviewing Dan in the (permanently temporary) trailer office and lab where we worked. He was not the most talkative applicant – in fact he still remains verbally parsimonious!- but he nonetheless impressed the three of us and was awarded a coveted spot on that cruise.
“Sharp as a bowling ball” is one of Dan’s sayings that has stuck in my head over the years. During WinCruise II, bad puns like that aside, he was a no-nonsense, steady worker. But yes, Dan is a punster. His deadpan delivery of the keenest off the cuff pun would send us rolling in laughter on the decks. He and I developed a bit of a “punny” relationship during that cruise. It blossomed when Dan continued working with the krill project during the normal summer season, based at Palmer Station in 1988. Dan and I would feed off each other’s bad wit and Robin was often groaning in pain due to our ‘pun-ishment’. Dan and I worked together again on another cruise, WinCruise III in 1989.
Both of the winter cruises involved diving under the ice to collect krill. Normally, during the summer, a ship can tow a net through the water to collect krill. In the winter when the surface of the water was covered by ice the only way to sample the water was to get in it. Dan and I were both certified to dive under the ice on those cruises. If I had my full dive logs with me I could list just when we dove together all those years ago! Dan is a super diver. He was trained by the west coast legend – Jim Stewart at Scripps Institute of Oceanography.
Dan has continued working in marine research over the years as he bounced around the country. He traded the west coast for shorelines between Rhode Island and Chesapeake Bay while working on his Master’s degree at the University of Delaware College of Marine Studies. His focus shifted to fish studying the latitudinal variation in the tautog. During his time in Delaware he also reeled in the heart of his now wife Anne Boettcher.
Dan now lives in Mobile, Alabama. Anne is on faculty at the University of South Alabama. Oddly enough, Anne has been a guest at my home, but not Dan. Anne was invited up to UAB to give a Biology Department seminar and Chuck was her host. Dan was back in Antarctica working a summer season again for Robin and Langdon. In recent years, he worked closer to home at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. He reverted back to studying spineless, marine critters but instead of krill his research subjects were jellyfish.
Dan brings a broad range experiences and abilities to our project. He is an accomplished underwater photographer and has some of the best krill shots I have ever seen. He also has a crazily daring close-up of a leopard seal. How he could hold the camera still….. Our first dive together again this week was Dan’s 806th! I look forward to logging more dives with Dan as well as punning around with him these next weeks.