It’s been a very productive season. There’s been fishing, there’s been catching, there’s been cribbage bracelet winning, there’s been halloween costume contest winning, there’s been tuba playing. And lots of penguins.
We’ve been out fishing 4-5 times a week, and filling in the extra time with lab work. Here is the blog I’ve been writing and hence neglecting my own blog for, It’s about our fishing operations, the type of fish we catch, and the science we do: http://buckleylab2011.blogspot.com/
The group that I am working with studies the effects of changes in temperature on Antarctic fish. These fish are very sensitive, and can only survive in a narrow range of temperatures. They are used to living in sea water that is colder than freezing, -1.86C. They die at +6 degrees C. No other animal (vertebrate), not even Antarctic seals and penguins, are this sensitive. Our group is looking at what happens to these fish on a cellular level. In addition to going out and fetching “volunteers” (read: specimens), I also coordinate logistics and assist with experiments in the lab.
The ice has been different this year, which had posed some, er, challenges for our sea ice travel and fishing operations. The sea ice surrounding Ross Island/McMurdo, which used to break up and blow out to sea annually, had not done so in over a decade. At the end of last summer (Feb 2011), McMurdo had beachfront property for the first time in a decade. Due to various environmental reasons (don’t call it climate change, that’s a whole other thing), the sea ice has been dynamic, shifting, weird, and cracky. There are several places where we have to keep a close eye on the ice that we travel over, and monitor some cracks. Here is a map of our sites and how we profile cracks in the sea ice. Because of the cracks in the ice, profiling cracks, and detours we have to take, our daily commute to our sites doubled from a 1 hour drive each way, to a two hour drive.
In other recent news, I made a timelapse of our day of fishing. One of our premiere fishing spots is Inaccessible Island, about 11 miles north of McMurdo Station, (a two-hour drive) on the sea ice in a Pisten Bully. The sea ice is about 2 meters thick in this area, so we use two 1-meter flights on our jiffy drill. Once we get through the ice, it’s fish-a-minute. Best job ever.