Explore UAB

UAB in Antarctica
MCurtis 2 1 Zodiac
I am writing from the couch in the galley with a wood burning fireplace to my left and an incredible view of icebergs and snow-covered islands in front of me. This morning has been spent talking with new friends while watching crabeater and leopard seals peacefully floating by on ice floes. But how have we gotten from a hectic week of settling in to this peaceful point of feeling at home at the bottom of the world?

For your first week in Antarctica, you will need to:
• Complete trainings…. Lots of trainings!
• Set up the lab and aquarium space
• Get settled into your room
• Begin learning the culture of the station and start to enjoy the journey!

Trainings: From the first hour we were on station training was the name of the game. Our first day here was meticulously planned out for us with a series of tours and trainings. Being the newbies in town, CJ and I got the full tour of our new home for the next few months. That was followed by the station welcome/orientation which was followed by fire and safety training, hazardous waste training, and galley training.
Our training highlight of the first day came with the Small Boat Operator training where we learned to tie knots, set up an emergency stove, and set up a tent in the lounge!

Our overall training highlight was definitely the field portion of boat training. We learned how to prepare the zodiacs (rugged inflatable boats) and how to drive them through various icy conditions. During our Small Boat Operator outing, we were treated to the beautiful sights of icebergs, Adélie penguins, and a smattering of various seals.

MCurtis 2 2 Zodiac View

Lab Setup: Once the lab was set up it was time to get to work with the aquarium room! We set up sorting and experimental tanks, then it was time to get to work on building amphipod hotels. What, you ask is an amphipod hotel? Well, let me tell you about it!

An amphipod hotel is just what it sounds like – a little hotel for little shrimp-like crustaceans to live in. While there might not be a reception desk and little mints on the pillows, there are windows complete with window screening (although admittedly these have a lot more to do with water flow than they do with scenery). Working off the design developed by a fellow lab alumnus and Antarctic explorer, Julie Schram, we sewed and hot glued our hearts out until all 96 hotels were complete.
MCurtis 2 3 Amphipod Hotel

These hotels will be used throughout our time here to study the growth of amphipods fed seaweeds that produce different chemicals. We also learned this week that they make festive lights for a station art show in a pinch.

MCurtis 2 4 Amphipod Hotel Lights

Now that all of the lab setup is done, we are all excited to continue the process of building friendships and getting to know the station more!