Thursday, February 19, 2009

PALMER STATION

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We arrived at the US Antarctic station Palmer at 6:30 this morning. The skies are cloudy but the weather is far from being an Antarctic nightmare. The ship will be docked the whole day unloading cargo to re-supply the station. In the meantime we are all enjoying a little window of connection with the real world again through the internet. Here we have full internet access unlike, in the ship where only limited email is available. So it is time to check the news, write to our relatives and friends, and have the freedom to send good quality pictures, which by the way we have tons. It is also an opportunity to walk around the station, meet the ground-based US Antarctic research staff and greet those we met in the last summer expedition, February 2008. And of course we have to go for the traditional walk on Palmer glacier that is right behind the station. There are great views from the top of the glacier and by the end of the hike we should be able to reach Bonaparte Point where the elephant seals take their sunbath.

At night we have a full-schedule at the station, starting eight-o-clock after dinner our PI’s will be giving another science lecture for Palmer station folks that are interested in the research we are conducting around the Peninsula. After that we will all meet at the bar where the traditional “Ship-and-base crowd meet” party takes place. Cool!!






While transiting south yesterday we had gorgeous scenery with the sun shining most of the time. The passage through the Gerllak strait rewarded us not only with beautiful views but also with the company of tens of humpback whales. They were all over the place and we had an awesome time enjoying some of the Antarctic wildlife. We stayed for a couple of hours on the bridge with binoculars ready for any new appearance. In the summer time humpback whales return to the Antarctic Ocean to their feeding grounds after spending most of the austral winter in the tropics breeding.







A day ago we did not have much to celebrate since we had to accomplish a rescue operation. We received the bad news that the paleontologists at Livingston Island were hit by severe 60-knot wind gusts that blew away most of their tents making unsafe to continue with their expedition. They even had to gain refuge from the wind and the cold in a small cave during the worst weather conditions. Yes, Antarctic scientific research is not always the most straightforward and safe activity to pursue. We are often subject to weather conditions that make it unsafe to proceed with any outdoors’ activity.


We arrived at Livingston the night before but we had to wait for the winds to die down a bit and for the daylight to help us make a safer and more efficient rescue operation. We could see in the facial expressions of the Livingston scientists that they were all extremely disappointed in the failure of their mission. It took us only 3 hours to take down the campsite and load the zodiacs with all the gear and supplies.


Today is another day and we have to start thinking about what is coming ahead of us. After we leave Palmer tomorrow morning we head to station B where we will recover one of the two camera systems we deployed last winter cruise. This is when the real FOODBANCS work will start. Hasta Luego, Aloha!



1 comment:

johnny-foley said...

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It was a nice experience. I really liked what you did but at the same time it's a odd story because you mentioned "Bonaparte" as a something physic, isn't?