Explore UAB

UAB in Antarctica
Chuck Cormorant ride the waves wind

It has been said of Palmer weather “if you don’t like it, wait a few minutes”. This was obvious the other day as not only Station’s weather changed, but so too its climate! David Bowie sang: “Ch-Ch-ch-changes …. time can change me, but I can’t trace time”. Nonetheless, I will try to trace some rather dramatic recent changes in the following paragraphs.

Beyond the galley’s large plate glass windows the morning was gray with a light mist/rain spitting and winds rapidly spiraling down into suitable boating range. Finally, we may see some relief from the long stretch of high wind days keeping us inside much of the past week. The wind remained steady and calm so at 9:30 divers Andrew and Sabrina and tenders Chuck and me zodiaced away – destination Laggard Island. (see CJ’s “Pro Bubble-Watching” entry for boating area map). Captain Chuck and smooth seas made for a quick trip.

The return trip was anything but smooth and calm. Just after Andrew and Sabrina surfaced from a very successful dive, the wind reared at us like a mad stallion its front legs wildly kicking up frothy waves. Ch-ch-changes: Chuck skillfully proceeded against the 30 knot head wind occasionally sliding into the trough to minimize swamping by the many angry waves beating against the boat. Sabrina’s underwater camera captured the above water, yet water drenched image serving as the visual opening for my writing. The blue-eyed shag winging alongside was likely enjoying the gusty adventure more than Chuck. By the time we got back to Station the tenders were wetter than the divers and we were rethinking the plan for an afternoon dive.

During lunch the gray sky slowly graded to blue, the only gray visible were shadows from a now unmasked beaming sun. Ch-ch-changes…. The wind however was still too high for boating so the afternoon dive for now divers Chuck and Maggie would be from the shore off the zodiac dock. Tenders CJ and Michelle basked in glorious sunshine while watching our bubbles from either the pier, or the floating dock in relative comfort to the morning’s tend. Unlike the morning dive with beautiful clear water to enjoy the wall covered with colorful invertebrates and algae (see any of Sabrina’s “Underwater Captured” images ) the dock waters that day were a stirred up, silty soup. The intended samples were collected so that at least was satisfying.

LMG arrives

The anticipation had been building all day on Station – a noticeable climate shift. Our supply ship, the Laurence M. Gould, would be arriving in late afternoon. Almost the entire station came to dinner promptly at 5:30, hastily or anxiously dining on grilled steak and veggies (great barbeque weather!). The hasty diners were line handlers who were needed to be on the dock to secure the heavy lines passed from the ship to the line handlers to affix around rock-bound bollards (like an equine hitching posts for ships). The anxious ones, including many of the line handlers and all members of the summer station support staff, were eager to turn-over their 6-month Station responsibilities to the incoming winter staff. Half way through the dinner hour, the ship appeared and the well-orchestrated dance of tying up the ship, began. The Station as we knew it was ch-ch-changing.

The night remained calm as ship and station personnel met and mixed and hopefully soothed any trepidation the soon-to-be departing summer crew were experiencing. After a day of crazy, rapidly changing weather the Palmer was gifted an uncommon of late spectacular sunset. I took advantage of the calm later to sleep beneath the stars in my long neglected bivy.


In addition to fresh support and science faces, the Gould also delivered cargo including fresh food! Many on Station responded to an announcement for all available to help shuttle “freshies” into storage. The boxes of fruit and vegetables from Chile were craned off the ship and placed into the broad arms of our SkyTrak - a multipurpose heavy vehicle with a telescoping neck ending in this case with a bulldozer-like bucket. The logistics operator drove the SkyTrak over to the deck off the galley and giraffe-like stretched the laden maw up and over the railing.


In hot-potato fashion boxes were passed down the line of waiting hands: heavy boxes of apples, carrots, cabbage, lighter boxes of herbs or grapes, etc. All not seen or tasted fresh for several weeks.

Hot Potato freshies

Michelle and I assisted with the first round of freshies and then we were off to diver tending. In our absence, another two such loads brought more goodies like avocados, lettuce, watermelon, bananas, etc. plus dairy products like milk, eggs and yogurt. We returned to a typically delicious but uniquely different lunch, which for the first time in weeks included a beautiful, colorful salad and fresh fruit! This kind of ch-ch-change everyone appreciates!


Finally, I really should say something about our science progress. Results are often slow to come in this field of work, so I am pleased to report evident progress. The developing snails I introduced in “Twisted Tails” have started emerging out of their jelly-like womb chambers! Newborns!! This is one ch-ch-change I hope to continue tracing in order identify who they are as time will certainly change them into a recognizable snail.

Snail Babies

Meanwhile, time for another freshie-filled lunch and afternoon dive but the wind direction and speed keeps a ch-ch-ch-changing….