“I wanted to find out why my wife kept leaving me for three months a year,” Amsler said. Besides giving him a common ground with his wife, Antarctica grabbed the young researcher’s imagination. “I became excited about the scientific opportunities there on that trip and immediately began trying to get back to do my own work.” Since that time he has made two more trips to McMurdo to study the chemical ecology of invertebrates, algae and bacteria.
He returned to Palmer in 1989 at the behest of the National Science Foundation to assess the damage caused by a shipwreck and oil spill off the coast. Although he hasn’t revisited Palmer in more than 10 years, Amsler has also explored McMurdo Station to study physiological response of microalgae that live in sea ice. He took that trip right after coming to work at UAB.
He looks forward to the trip back to Palmer, which with about 35 researchers in residence is “another world from McMurdo,” a station that sometimes has as many as 1,000 people living there. The sea bottom near Palmer is dominated by macroalgae.
“There are almost no macroalgae at McMurdo, where I've been working recently. This coupled with some of the unique oceanographic characteristics of coastal Antarctica allow us to pose important new scientific questions that could not be examined anywhere else, including at McMurdo,” he said.
“In terms of terrestrial natural history, Palmer has many, many more species of birds and seals. And although we could go the whole trip without seeing a whale, whales can be quite common in the area around the station.”