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21 April: A glassy pinnacle (Scotia Arc Expedition 2013)

By: Dr Nerida Wilson, Category: Science, Date: 23 Apr 2013

We finally reached our Scotia Ridge site today. But our hopes of launching a camera to directly survey the bottom were dashed.

 

21 April: A glassy pinnacle (Scotia Arc Expedition 2013) #1

Allison Murray © Allison Murray

There was a storm nearby, and the wind and swell had been picking up for a while as we approached. But the hardy ship crew and marine technicians helped us get one trawl in before we had to stop.

And that trawl was full of a group of animals known as glass sponges. These sponges have wickedly sharp spicules like the ones we found on 16 April. We then waited out the night. The forecast gave us hope that for a few hours the next morning the wind might die down a little. As we waited we reminisced about our favourite expeditions...

Amy, Marine Science Technician: Her favourite was Cape Colbeck. She remembers the NBP breaking into the ice for the purpose of penguin research. As is customary aboard the NBP, when the ship cannot push through the ice anymore, an ice party is held which includes plenty of hot chocolate (and snowball fights?).  After creating an igloo-esque hot cocoa room, they had a warm welcome from a group of about 75 Emperor Penguins. As Amy put it, “The penguins came to us!”

George, Electronic Technician: Researching whales with Duke University was his favourite moment. He was invited to accompany the researchers on the zodiac as they tagged and photo identified sleeping whales. At one point, he especially remembers being surrounded by about 20 humpback whales. A feeling and experience he would never forget.

Mackenzie, Marine Technician: Aside from the obvious of getting to meet and hang out with the coolest scientists to ever set sail the seven seas, as a new crewmember her favourite moment has been being a part of the “good luck seastar dance” when searching for the target species, Porania antarctica. This involved a very peculiar yet seastar-like waltz and flap.

Jamee, Marine Projects Coordinator: During a trip near the Equator, with much nicer weather than we could ever expect, Jamee recalled catching a giant Sailfish. Since that particular fish was not deliberately caught, they decided to donate it to an orphanage in Punta Arenas.

Rob, Second Mate: Rob recalled being at the Larsen ice-shelf doing some sea bottom camera work around midnight. The Palmer was stationed about a half-mile off the immense shelf. At some point Rob heard a loud noise and realized a large chunk of ice had calved (or fallen off) into the water. The huge wave created, of not just water but also of ice, pushed them more than a mile off their position. This abandoned any hopes of recovering the camera equipment and Rob recalls feeling powerless against the forces of the ice flow.