Northern Gerlache Strait
Having gingerly put our noses into the head of the Weddell Sea we were rewarded with the delights of Paulet Island; Now we have turned our noses towards the Western side of the Peninsula and into the Gerlache Strait. It is a more intimate environment than the Weddell Sea. Enjoy!
07:30 Breakfast will be available
09:00 There are several great places for us to get off the ship this morning. Final choice will depend on wind direction and ice. We may land or we may get into the zodiacs amongst the ice.
12:30 Lunch is served
14:00-17:30 HB Sessions
19:00 Dinner is served
What a rough night of rolling! It turned out yesterday that we went the furthest South into the Weddell Sea that the ship had been that year but had to turn around due to excessive ice. After departing the sheltered seas of the South Shetland Islands we had headed back into the open Southern Ocean across the Bransfield Strait as we made our way to the Western Side of the peninsula and turned our backs on the ice-filled Weddell Sea. This was the start of our journey South, through the iceberg-filled waters off the West coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. The rough seas continued through most of the morning, meaning that our plans for a landing had changed (everything is subject to the mercy of the cabalistic winds in Antarctica). Luckily, we had plenty of Homeward Bound program content to be getting on with, therefore, this was moved forward.
Symposium at Sea (part 2)
Ellen Moon - looks at how trace metals move through landscapes, i.e. Lead, Arsenic and the risk to health that this causes, in particular Ellen looks at how metals are bonded to soils for remediation strategies.
Isabel Zhang Zhang - is a equity research analyst looking at the economics of capital allocations within the private sector of the world bank, specifically Isabel focuses on climate investments.
Jessica Kretzmann - is a PhD student in Perth looking at the genomic engineering for breast cancer applications, in particular polymer design.
Uxua Lopez - is an engineer in the telecommunications sector building systems support control rooms for renewable energy, managing servers and database. In her spare time she is part of a team of friends building an eco village in Spain.
Sarah Lucas - is a paediatrician in Australia, currently a Junior doctor.
Yiting Wang - works for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) on NGO strategies to alleviate China's impact to climate change and global policy.
Sandra Velarde - is an economist in New Zealand focused on forestry, carbon biodiversity trade-offs, knowledge management and adaptive governance to address future issues now
Elisa Harvey - is a vet, she has worked as an FDA scientific reviewer, a biotech consultant and currently volunteers as an international vet bringing her expertise to a One Health approach
Amanda Kirk - is an environmental and humanitarian engineer working in the private water sector in New Zealand. Amanda looks at technically challenging water irrigation and pipeline issues to bring solutions. Amanda has considerable experience as a volunteer on islands through her work with Engineers Without Borders.
Marie Clarke - is a secondary school science teacher from Australia, passionate about engaging children in STEM subjects and interactive classroom experiences.
Ana Chang - founded Seafood Legacy through her passion social and cultural motivations for behaviour. She also set up a consultancy to align with her passion for global sustainable seafood.
After lunch, Sara, one of the visibility / PR team, worked with us on our visibility goals. These are part of the Personal Strategy Map which we started in Ushuaia. We could choose to work on personal, professional or collective visibility goals. We worked on clarifying these in pairs by setting long-term and short-term goals that would improve our visibility. Most people focussed on professional goals, I set myself personal goals.
We then had a second science lecture on the Antarctic Terrestrial Conservation work by Justine Shaw.
Justine told us about the Antarctic climate, characterised by cold air, dry air, snow, seasonal daylight, catabolic winds and low temperatures. In particular, the Antarctic peninsula (where we had just arrived), is comprised of the peninsula itself and a series of archipelago islands. Amazingly the ice-free land is only 0.3% of the total land mass of Antarctica, however this is where approx. 99% of all the biodiversity lives - what an incredible fact. These species include endemic species, i.e. they occur nowhere else on Earth. These environments can include moss banks and plants. They have evolved to live under these extreme conditions, with exceptional limitations including isolation, space, dispersal, and islands in the ice. Taxa include moss (over 130 species, drought tolerant, still photosynthetic although in winter they are covered in snow), lichen (over 250 species, non-vascular, slow growing, fungi can adhere to rocks), rotifers, collembola, targigrades "water bears", nematodes, mites, algae, plus only two flowering plants (the plants are not endemic). Physiological stress, such as desiccation, high irradiation, low soil water and low temperatures mean that cells are often high in chemicals (secondary metabolites) to protect them from rupture or freezing.
Designated Antarctic Protected Areas (ASPARS) encompass bioregional diversity. These areas have been defined in the last 10 years to ensure no mixing between different biodiversity regions within Antarctica. Currently there are 16 Bioregions, there are currently seven high risk ASPARS on the Antarctic Peninsula. These protected areas try to minimise non-native species, for example there are three grass species which have already invaded (some of these are from the dog-sledding times). Pathways for invasions are usually people -> ship/aircraft -> land. Hence the vacuuming of pockets and scrubbing of boots at each landing. One way to tell if a species is invasive or not is if it is not native in South America but native in E.g. Europe. To ensure compliance of all people to ASPARS, there is a limit of 100 people per landing and inspections of research bases by treaty member countries.
Now we get to place our well scrubbed rubber boots (supplied by the ship) on Antarctica, this is our first landing on the continent (all previous were the South Shetland Islands). Greg and Juileta, our expedition leaders decide that Poral Point would be our landing for a couple of hours during the late afternoon. At the entrance of Charlotte Bay, Portal Point marks the start of the central peninsula. They bay itself is often filled with recently-calved icebergs. Portal Point is the site of a former British Antarctic Survey base. The remnants of the hut, built in 1956 were just visible beyond some Antarctic fur seals. The hut has been moved to a museum on the Falkland Islands. There was not very much wildlife here, the odd chinstrap penguin (skidding down the hill on its tummy!) and a group of Antarctic fur seals. The location itself consisted of a small rocky landing (where the seals were), a snow dome hill and the amazing views from it which included spectacular Antarctic mountains and the giant icebergs in the bay.