Explore UAB

UAB in Antarctica
MCurtis 2018.04 Palmer resized
Antarctica seems like such an exotic place. But just how different is daily life at a remote field station from life back at home?

Since most of us (myself included until recently) have not had the opportunity to experience life in an isolated and wonderful world, here is a breakdown of a normal day for the divers here at Palmer Station:

6:30am (or 7am depending on how tired I am): Wake up, get dressed, and head down to breakfast. – Luckily for Andrew and I, we live in the BIO building (aka the building where the galley and labs are) so the morning starts with waking up to a beautiful view of the glacier and then heading directly downstairs to coffee and a delicious breakfast (See CJ’s “Cupcakes, Cookies, and Brownies” blog for more on that). Sabrina and CJ also wake up to a beautiful glacier view but have to brave the cold to get from the GWR (Gym, Warehouse, Recreation) building to the galley in BIO.

8:00am: Group meeting – This is where we discuss upcoming lab/field needs and assuming weather allows the dive plan for the day is established.

9:15am: First dive of the day! – We typically spend the time leading up to this point getting our inflatable zodiac ready  and loading all of the necessary gear on board for our daily adventure. Sometimes we have help from a friend like this sleepy crabeater seal who visited the boat ramp yesterday morning.

MCurtis 2018.04 Crabbie resized

9:15 – 11:30(ish)am: Get out on the water.… or do lab work! - Chuck’s “Getting ready to dive” and “Getting in and out of an ice bath” along with CJ’s “Professional bubble-watching” posts do a wonderful job of filling in the excitement that goes with this period on the boat! Sabrina’s “Amphipod hotels,” along with my “touch tank” and “mesocosm” posts can help to fill in the gap for lab work.

12:00p: LUNCH!! – Another delicious meal from the chefs here at Palmer! Although sometimes weather conditions or scheduling needs mean that we are out on the water at this time. A few weeks ago, Jim and I officially became the luckiest dive tenders in Antarctica when we were treated to a zodiac takeout delivery since we had to work during burger day!

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1:15-3:30(ish)pm: Second dive of the day! – Rinse and repeat from the morning.

5:30pm: DINNER!! – Do you see a pattern developing in how excited we get for the absolutely fantastic food here?

6:30pm: GASH (sometimes) – This stands for Galley and Scullery Help. Every night, different members of the Palmer community sign up to help put away food and clean the kitchen and galley areas.

6:30 (or 7:30 if you had GASH) – bedtime: Finish up remaining work in the lab for the night and/or go do something fun!  After dinner there are lots of fun things to do. There are weekly science talks, new movie nights, ongoing tv show nights. If less structured events are more your style, there are usually people playing board games, billiards, cards, or darts in the bar. If more physical pursuits are more your style, there is always the option to join the night-time gym crowd or find a friend to hike the glacier with.

Overall, life here isn’t too much different from life back at home. We all wake up, eat, go to work, and then socialize and enjoy our evenings. Although at the end of the day, when “a day at the office” means exploring Antarctica from a zodiac, there are bound to be a few more magical moments mixed in with the day in and day out.

MCurtis 2018.04 Zodiac resized