2009 Expedition Archives
Sunday, February 22
Posted by Geoff Green, Expedition Leader
Yesterday was another fantastic day! After an early sail down the Errera Channel, the team observed a pod of Minke whales and were joined by two Humpback whales! A mother and her calf! After a breathtaking morning - flat, calm, peaceful - the ship sailed into Neko Harbour for another landing by the group.
For the landing, the students broke up into four stations:
- Glaciology Station
- Beachcombing Station
- Penguin Observation
- Plankton Tow - Oceanography Station (in zodiacs)
After everyone rotated through each station, it was time for the hike to the glacier. This glacier in particular was very active and the group could hear it cracking, watched as a gigantic piece of the glacier calved, and as a result, witnessed large surges on beach!
The afternoon was spent at Port Lockroy, touring the former military base & research station, which is now a historical site and museum. Students had their passports stamped and mailed postcards & letters from the Port Lockroy store.
Last night, the team attempted to stop at an un-named island scouted last year by Geoff, and Education Team members, Dr. Roy “Fritz” Koerner and Terry “Scobie” Pye. This site was selected by Fritz as an ideal location to conduct ice core sampling and establish a weather station. Unfortunately it was too windy and the visit had to wait until the following morning.
Everyone is getting course work done and the ship is bustling with activity all the time. For example, Hannah Koslowsky has been working with the Captain, learning how to control the ship, navigate waters, and reading charts!
Anchoring in a hidden bay for the night, it was a quiet evening on board, most were quite tired after a busy few days. It was nice to see everyone relaxed, in good spirits, happy and healthy!
Sunday, February 22:
It was a Glaciology focused morning for a group of 15 expedition members! This small group landed at 5:30am, on the unnamed island as mentioned above, to conduct ice core sampling and establish a weather station. This landing is significant because it was selected on the Antarctic 2007 expedition by Dr. Roy “Fritz” Koerner (Glaciologist, Emeritus Scientist and Polar Explorer), Expedition Leader Geoff Green, and Education Team Member Terry “Scobie” Pye, as the island Fritz would return to with Students on Ice in 2008 to conduct ice core and weather research.
Sadly, “Fritz” passed away last year before he was able to return to Antarctica. In tribute to Fritz and his important contributions to the scientific world and the Students on Ice program, we have returned this year to continue his work. His colleague from Natural Resources Canada – Geological Survey of Canada, Dr. David Burgess is leading this project, along with Dr. Luke Copland from the University of Ottawa, and includes the participation of the two students from Grise Fiord, Nunavut, Terry Noah and Jason Pijamini.
A summary of the morning research was explained via satellite telephone to SOI HQ by Sierra Pope, one of Dr. Copland’s students from the Glaciology course at Ottawa University. Here is her recap:
“The expedition is going very well. Although feeling tired, we keep going, working hard, and learning so much! I was privileged to be part of the glaciology team this morning. It was an early start – up and out in the zodiacs by 5AM! David Burgess and Luke Copland led the session. They brought ice coring equipment, such as drills, differential GPS units, and a HOBO Weather Station which we left on the island.
Together, we were a dozen students from the U of O Glaciology Course, and a few students from the U of A Practical Study in Earth and Atmospheric Science Course who were curious about glaciology work. In addition, the two high school students from Grise Fiord, Nunavut, Terry Noah and Jason Pijamini, and the SOI film crew joined us, to continue filming the IPY funded documentary featuring Terry and Jason.
The goal of the morning session was to obtain solid snow and ice core data, and leave the weather station to compare data and readings over the year. This was also a commemorative trip, because the ice-capped island was the place that Fritz wanted to visit last year during the SOI Antarctic Expedition 2007.
This commemoration was meaningful to me, because of Fritz’s contribution to the scientific world and the study of the polar regions. Personally, as a graduate of Luke Copland’s lab at the University of Ottawa, I had studied Fritz’s work - readings and data research – and have a sense of his impact on the international glaciology community. It was also significant because Fritz was involved in the last IPY in 1957 and here I am participating in IPY projects in 2009! I feel this is a great cyclical event, to hike up and conduct measurements on behalf of Fritz.
It was a wonderful morning, great energy felt by all team members. It was exciting to get out and do real glaciology work! We measured snow density and temperature in snow pack, obtained ice core samples, which show different layers….I really enjoy fieldwork and it was awesome for us future glaciologists to do what we love! A truly memorable experience and I was really happy to share ice coring and my passion for glaciology with the students unfamiliar with the study!
Returning to the ship, Geoff reminded everyone how important Fritz Koerner was to Students on Ice and how we need to continue his legacy. It was neat to follow in his footsteps and start a measurement station on the little capped island, that SOI can come back to next year and obtain useful data!”
Following this morning’s glaciology work, the ship sailed along down the Lemaire Channel and they have arrived to the Yalour Islands. This is the second last day on Antarctica! The expedition is flying by and everyone is making the most of it, trying to soak it all up!
Split into two groups, some are spread out, wandering around the island or relaxing on the rocks to observe the penguins. Others are up on a glacier conducting experiments. Once everyone has either spent time on the glacier or with their penguin friends, the group will return to the ship and sail on to the Vernadsky Station.
The station is important for glaciologists in particular, as they are currently studying records from that station. This station is the further point south for the team before they make their way back towards Ushuaia. Following their visit to Vernadsky, a celebration on board the ship and a traditional Argentine BBQ!
Students ready for ice coring!
Yesterday afternoon’s visit to Vernadsky Research Base, featured a stop at Wordie House, Winter Island. Wordie was an early British station focusing on meteorological research. http://www.antarctica.ac.uk/about_antarctica/environment/special_areas/wordie_house.php.
The Ukrainian government now maintains the site and established an Ukrainian Antarctic Station at Marina Point on Galindez Island. The Ukrainian Antarctic Center continues a programme of meteorology and other scientific research.
After a full day of exploring, the team was treated to an Asado, a traditional Argentine BBQ. Once everyone was done feasting, it was a full night of course meetings, a daily recap, and review of preparations for their final day in Antarctica before heading north.
A Zodiac among icebergs
Journal Entry by Susan Nulukie, Kuujjuaq QC, Jaanimmarik
Leaving Yalour Islands and heading North
Cool, I’m still in Antarctica. At least its not going to fast but I’m already going home in a few days, leaving Antarctica tomorrow. L I don’t want to leave it but at the same time I miss home. I wish I could spend more time in Antarctica. It makes me sad that we are starting to head home already. Well, it is my 18th birthday tomorrow and I still can’t believe its going to be in Antarctica.
We saw more penguins today when we went to a slippery island this morning. This afternoon we went to Vernansky research place. It’s a pretty cool place. It’s not like Antarctica at all. I know I always say I’m going to do this tomorrow but sorry I haven’t and I don’t thing I will. I guess I’ll just talk all about when I’m home. When your on this boat, you really don’t feel like touching the laptop. All you want to do is talk to the people, get to know them, or look at the beautiful Antarctica in the bridge or outside. Hmm what else to say? Too much to say but I’m going to spend all night on this haha if I’m going to write everything and anything I did here. We did to much in such little time seems like.
Gosh, when I go home, I’m going to say “I miss this I miss that.” I will not stop saying I MISS. Sorry, guys at home. Anyways, I’m going to have tea, then go to bed now. Love you guys at homeJ. Oh yeah, I love Scobie’s story’s, they’re the best
Penguins jump out of the water as a Zodiac approaches a Leopard Seal on a piece of ice
Journal Entry by Dylan Polacek, Boca Raton, Fl / Boca Raton High School
Leavingt the Yalour Islands
Today we made our morning landing on the Yalour Islands. The glaciology class had to wake up at 5am to do sampling, but luckily I was able to sleep until 0730. Once we reached land, I saw a huge amount of mosses and lichens. The ground was rocky and covered in guano, similar to Port Lockroy. The penguin population was all Adelies, with a couple of Chinstraps. As I climbed the different portions of rock, Olle explained to me the plant life, including the orange-colored Brass lichens and other black, yellow and green lichens. There were also many huge moss beds between the rocks. Jason and Terry, the students from Grise Fiord, Nunavut (at the other side of the world) had their pictures taken with their flag.
Jason, Terry and I then got on a zodiac to cruise around the icebergs. Our driver was Belinda, who happens to be on of the deepest female divers. She has also been to the Titanic in a submersible. As we drove past the amazing icebergs that looked similar to ice sculptures, we suddenly found that we were being followed by an enormous Leopard Seal. It came close to our zodiac, picked its head up several times, and looked straight at us. It was one of the coolest and scariest things I have ever seen. We then went back to the ship and had another great meal. After a bit of sailing, we reached Vernadsky Station, a Ukrainian base that will soon be our southernmost landing.
Students on Ice Videographer Michel Valiquette hard at work
Journal Entry by Marianne Mathis, Université Laval
Cet article est écrit en ayant une pensée spéciale pour ma mère, Marie, pour son anniversaire demain. Du bout du monde, je t’envoie des vœux de bonne fête remplis de lumière blanche d’Antarctique pour cette belle journée qui t’attend!
Les deux derniers jours furent bien remplis! La visite d’hier, à Neko Arbour, nous a permis d’effectuer un premier carottage de glace, dans le glacier qui s’y trouvait. C’était la première vraie expérience en sol antarctique: des paysages incroyables de falaises brunes et de glaciers qui recouvrent à peu près tout. Le début la matinée avait été particulièrement enthousiaste, parce que nous observions le paysage en silence et que des baleines sont venues nous rendre visite. Le spectacle était incroyable, il y avait là plusieurs baleines qui se nourrissaient et qui sautaient pour nous, dans la clarté du matin, dans le silence des icebergs qui craquent.
Ce matin, le réveil était à 5 h, pour aller faire du carottage de glace sur une île sans nom, sur laquelle un chercheur travaillait, avec Students on Ice, il y a encore quelques mois de cela. Nous l’avons fait en sa mémoire et il nous surveillait sans doute de son ciel, ce matin. Malgré nos yeux encore petits de fatigue, c’était vraiment une expérience incroyable d’être au 65ième parallèle, si tôt le matin, pour monter sur un glacier et faire ces expériences avec les deux glaciologistes qui nous accompagnent.
Il y a de ces rencontres inattendues qui vous font réaliser que le monde est petit, et qu’une simple rencontre peut faire toute la différence.
Les éléments s’alignent parfois miraculeusement, dans un ordre précis, pour que s’accomplisse la légende personnelle à laquelle nous sommes destinés (L’alchimiste, selon Paulo Coelho). Ainsi, après avoir perdu mon groupe au cours de la visite de la base, une discussion avec ce chercheur transformé en vendeur de souvenirs autour d’une serviette de thé aux motifs traditionnels ukrainiens, je me rends compte que deux des chercheurs de la base ont été impliqué dans la révolution orange de l’Ukraine, il y a quelques années. Il n’en faut pas plus pour que nos esprits s’enflamment et que nous discutions de ces moments intenses qui ont secoué leur pays. J’ai, pour ma part, une photo de Youtschenko sur la porte de ma chambre, tenant un enfant dans ses bras, avec leurs écharpes oranges, depuis cette révolution. Cet homme est un symbole de révolution tranquille et pacifique, et un modèle inspirant pour des milliers de personnes, dont celles qui étaient descendues dans les rues pour dénoncer le complot dont il avait été victime.
Quelque part en Antarctique, au 65ième parallèle plus exactement, sur la base de recherche ukrainienne de Vernansky, un chercheur va se coucher ce soir avec un sourire heureux.
Quelque part sur un bateau qui remonte la péninsule antarctique vers le Nord, une jeune femme va se coucher ce soir avec, dans sa pochette arrière, la joie d’avoir rencontré ce jeune homme, venu du bout du monde jusqu’à l’autre bout du monde, pour travailler sur des questions reliées au champ magnétique.
Demain est notre dernière journée complète en Antarctique. Nous en profiterons au maximum pour s’imprégner une dernière fois de ce continent qui révèle ses secrets un à un, mais tout en gardant son mystère.
A curious Leopard Seal eyes the students and staff in a Zodiac
Journal Entry by Dr. Hans Gelter, LTU
Hej alla hemma I Svedala. Vi har nu kommit till vår sydligaste landing. Det har varit en fantastisk resa, välorganiserad och med ambitiösa studenter. Jag har fotat och filmat en massa och varit upptagen med datainsamling av “Tourist Impact and Experience”. Ögonscanner har fungerat mindre bra (Kallibreringen ställer till det) men jag jobbar på det. I natt fick jag magsjuka och feber och kan därför inte vara med på dagens landningar. Hoppas jag blir bättre eftersom vi ska ha en Antarkisk BBQ I kväll.Hälsningar från Antarktis, Hansi G.
Underwater acrobatics of a Leopard Seal
Journal Entry by Sandra Borton, Thompson Rivers University
Okay, I’ll admit it…my picture taking is out of control! I have taken so many photos that I have run out of storage space on my laptop! Today was ANOTHER great day – they just keep coming! We did two landings today, as well as some zodiac cruising. I also spent a good part of the early morning and this afternoon up on the bridge, watching the scenery and looking for wildlife. I saw party of swimming penguins, minke whales and a leopard seal sun bathing on a flat iceberg. Later, on a zodiac cruise, we were able to go right up to the iceberg and see the leopard seal up close. They are really beautiful creatures.
Tonight, we are having a barbeque on the ship, as we sail north again. We reached the farthest southern point of the expedition, but not to worry, there will be plenty to see on the way back north. At the moment, we’re off to a presentation about whales from Olle, and then after dinner, I’ll hit the books for some homework!
Underwater Leopard Seal
Journal Entry by Jodie King, Nippissing University
This morning our glaciology class had a very early wake-up call. Since the weather was not the best yesterday evening, we had to do our class landing this morning at 5am! It was a little difficult to get up so early because our days are so packed full that we like to have all the sleep we can get. We hiked up a glacier that is really almost hidden in the back of the Wauwerman Islands, and has yet to be named. We dug some snow pits, did an ice core, and drilled a hole to place a pole and temperature gage that will remain here until this time next year to collect readings. The idea of including this glacier in the expedition was originally the idea of Fritz, who sadly passed away only a few short months ago. In his honour, we made the trip to the summit and had a celebration in his name. It was an amazing atmosphere with our small group all together on top of the glacier. I think we truly made a great memory, especially with Fritz looking down on us. There were Arctic Turns flying all around us as we left, so perhaps Fritz was actually there with us, in a way. Perhaps this peak could be named after him sometime in the near future, in his memory.
Nick and I began a discussion today about the size and scale of things in Antarctica. It is hard to understand from pictures and videos just how massive these icebergs, glaciers and mountains really are. Most of the time, the top of our ship doesn’t even reach the first layer in the glacier if it was put right next to it. I will try and get more shots with people and zodiacs in them in order to achieve some size comparisons for everyone wondering at home.
Later, we traveled down the Lemaire Channel towards the Allure Islands. Here we visited a colony of Adelie penguins and played “Where’s Waldo?” to find the one Chinstrap penguin! There were also all kinds of moss and grasses here, which we didn’t really expect this far south. We did some zodiac cruising and looked at some amazing icebergs in this area. Then we traveled a little further down to Vernadsky Station, a Ukrainian research base. They showed us all around the base, including the scientific research areas, kitchen, gym and even the bar! This station was purchased by the Ukrainians from Britain for only a dollar in 1996! The coin is built into the bar in memory of this day. More zodiac cruising in the afternoon revealed even more spectacular icebergs and a leopard seal lounging on a flat iceberg. We also squeezed our zodiac through a very small space between two icebergs! We have one more full day in Antarctica tomorrow before beginning our journey back up the Drake Passage towards Ushuaia once more.
A sketch of a Leopard Seal by student Cheryl Grabski
Journal Entry by BJ Bodnar, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Vernadsky Research Station
Having a unique, entertaining, enlightening day is nothing aside from the ordinary on an expedition, but today provided an interesting series of events that surpassed even my own ambitious predictions. We visited the Vernadsky research station, which was famously sold to the Ukraine in 1996 for a single dollar by its former inhabitants from Britain. Although I had very little idea of what to expect from the visit, I was excited at the idea of visiting a base that belonged the home county of my family, and was looking forward both to the conversation and liquid hospitality that often accompanies such an event in the Ukrainian tradition.
Shortly after we arrived, I was greeted by the lead tour guide Igor, and after a brief exchange in Ukrainian, we realized he was from the same region of the Ukraine that my family had moved to Canada from nearly one hundred years ago. He was both surprised and amazed at the prospect of meeting a fellow Ukrainian under such unlikely circumstances, and it didn’t take long before I found myself getting a private tour of the base, and posing in a variety of photos featuring symbols of our shared heritage. The visit ended as any encounter with Ukrainian culture should, with a visit to the bar and a couple of rounds of Vodka. We later learned that the base actually produces its own supply of alcohol, and has become widely known for having the best bar in Antarctica.
The day ended with a citing of a Leopard Seal, and a great evening cruise followed by a barbeque. I now have a better understanding of what life is like for the researchers and year round occupants of this continent. All things considered, the lifestyle certainly has a strange but compelling appeal.
Excited students jump in the air
Journal Entry by Mirielle Deschamps, University of Ottawa
Unnamed island – Glaciology trip
You know you are up early when you are up and running before the sun is. Having some pretty windy weather yesterday and also since we ran a little late, the glaciology class headed out early this morning to do the landing that was planned. The lucky students woke up at 5:00 am. Both my roommate and I were participating on this excursion and we were woken with some Snow Patrol and their conveniently title song: Open your eyes… After a minute I finally opened my eyes and got up and ready. We headed to the zodiacs, waited around for the late comers and went to a beautiful island. It is still unnamed, but the rocks that cover this island under the ice and snow were striking. They were a dark grey and the ones on the edge were all rounded out from the water. Upon our arrival, we had one lonely penguin that didn’t seem to enjoy our visit, as he started to run when spotting our zodiac in the water. We finally landed, brought our gear up the glacier and dug some snow pits. One for temperature and snow measurement data, another for GPS location and weather information and a third one for some ice coring. After 30 minutes to half an hour, we packed up and headed back down the glacier. The view on my walk down was so beautiful. I could see the different small rock islands covered in snow and in the distance we could see some snow covered mountains surrounded by low clouds. It was so peaceful to see. I was sad to leave this totally jaw dropping site to head back to the ship, but the cold winds definitely motivated me to jump in the zodiac.
* * * * *
Tu sais que tu es debout un peu trop tôt lorsque le soleil lui-même est encore au repos. Puisque nous avons eu un après-midi pas mal venteux hier et aussi puisque nous avons pris du retard au cours de la journée, l’excursion pour le cours d’étude des glaciers fut annulée. On s’est donc repris à 5h00 se matin. Ma colloque aussi participait à cette excursion et nous nous sommes réveillées au son de ‘Open your eyes’ de Snow Patrol. Après être restée coucher pendant une minute de plus, j’ai finalement ouvert mes yeux pour commencer la journée. À 5h30 nous étions dans nos zodiacs à attendre quelques retardataires et puis nous avons quitté le bateau vers cette merveilleuse île. Cette île n’a toujours pas de nom et la surface, sous la glace et la neige est complètement formée de roche magnifique. Ces roches étaient d’un gris foncé et au bord de l’eau, elles étaient complètement arrondies par les vagues. À notre arrivée, on y trouva un pingouin totalement seul sur l’île. Il ne semblait pas être heureux de notre visite, puisqu’il s’éloigna à la course dès qu’il nous observa dans nos zodiacs toujours à l’eau. Une fois sur l’île nous nous sommes installée avec tous nos outils au haut de la montagne pour creuser des trous dans la neige. Il y avait trois trous, un pour la mesure de la température et la densité de la neige, un deuxième pour recueillir de l’information GPS et de température et un dernier pour creuser dans la glace. Après le tout fini, j’ai débuté ma marche vers le zodiac en descendant le glacier. La vue fut magnifique!
Expedition Leader Geoff Green and videographer Michel Valiquette interview a student
Journal Entry by Maéva Gauthier, Mt-Tremblant, QC, University of Victoria
Yalour Island, Venardsky (Ukrainian science station)
Au menu aujourd’hui, passage dans le spectaculaire canal Lemaire large de 500m, un spectacle assez incroyable offert par le phoque Léopard autour du zodiac, la flore située le plus au sud de la planète et une visite dans une base scientifique ukrainienne, incluant le shooter de vodka! Notre premier arrêt fut à Yalour Island, ou nous avons fait un tour de zodiac pour approcher les icebergs et débarquer sur une île ou il y avait une colonie de manchots Adélie et une flore assez impressionnante et colorée (mousses, lichens et une plante appelée Deschampsia Antarctica). C’est l’endroit le plus au sud de la planète ou une plante peut pousser!
Notre deuxième sortie fut à la base scientifique Vernadsky, une station de recherche ukrainienne. Ce fut une station britannique pendant des années avant d’être vendue pour 1 pound à l’Ukraine dans les années 90 (il coûte beaucoup plus cher de restaurer l’endroit tel qu’il était avant la base). La visite s’est terminée au bar ou j’ai pu prendre un shooter de vodka avec pomme pour couper le goût tout de suite après. Ils font leur propre vodka et les chercheurs ont droit de boire une fois par semaine. La plupart étaient là depuis un an et le désir de rentrer à la maison se faisait sentir. Un an en Antarctique, cela peut être un peu long. Ensuite, nous sommes allés en zodiac pour se promener autour et nous avons vu deux phoques léopards. L’un d’eux sommeillant sur un petit iceberg et le 2e a nagé tout autour du zodiac et s’est montré le bout du nez plusieurs fois! Assez impressionnant comme bête, surtout quand il ouvre la bouche. C’est le seul phoque qui mange d’autres phoques (bébé), des manchots, des poissons et parfois du krill aussi. Les plongeurs doivent aussi faire attention et un accident est arrivé dans le passé. Un BBQ argentin a terminé cette autre belle journée et demain c’est déjà notre dernière journée en Antarctique! Nous allons retourner ensuite en direction du Drake passage. Malgré le fait que c’est un court séjour, les journées sont tellement remplies et on en a eu tellement plein la vue que ça semble être plus de temps passé ici. Le temps passe différemment.
Au menu demain, ce sera du hiking à l’île Denko pour avoir une vue 360 degrés et des baleines si nous sommes chanceux!
Our day started with a spectacular sailing in the Canal Lemaire, which is 500m wide. The very colourful Yalour Island was our first landing and allowed us to see an Adelie penguin colony and the most southern flora found on the planet! We saw lichens, mosses and the grass Deschampsia Antarctica.
Our second landing was to visit Vernadsky Ukrainian scientific station. Our tour finished in the bar where we could have a shot of home-made vodka! Quite good, actually. This British base was sold to the Ukrainians for one pound in the 90s because it was actually cheaper to sell it than to restore it to the way it was originally. Most of the scientists have been there for the past year and seemed to be eager to go back home. On our way back to the ship, we saw two leopard seals: one on an iceberg and one swimming around the zodiac. It was pretty amazing to see this particularly carnivorous animal looking at us and being so curious. The teeth are pretty surprising as well! Divers have to be careful around because they can confuse them for seals.
A wonderful Argentinean BBQ concluded this day and tomorrow is the last full day in Antarctica… Even though we were not in Antarctica itself that long, the days are so full and there is so much to see that time goes by at a different pace.
Tomorrow, it’s hiking on Denko Island to have a 360 degree view and whales hopefully!
A Leopard Seal rests on some ice
Journal Entry by Dan Hammond, London, ON / UWO
Yalour Island, Venardsky (Ukrainian science station)
Mornings just get more interesting and refreshing everyday! Polar yoga amongst whales, penguins and icebergs yesterday; trekking glaciers on an unnamed Island amongst the Wauwerman Islands.
The glaciology group rose at 5:00am, hopped in the zodiacs and trekked up a glacier to do some tests. The West Antarctic Ice sheet originated from a series of islands where glaciers formed and grew large enough to bridge the gaps. To estimate the future development of the area, we gathered the necessary information to determine the mass balance of said glaciers (whether they’re growing or shrinking). We took ice core samples, analyzed the thermal gradient in the surface layer, the density of the snow pack at different layers, and used a kinematic as well as a static GPS to determine our exact location. We will be discussing our findings in our class lecture later today, but aside from all of the scientific stuff – it was an incredible morning!
For these glaciers to bridge from island to island creates large bridges or caves which were very cool to check out in the zodiacs.
After breakfast, we arrived at Yalour Island, where we got up close and personal with some small, bulky (really cool!) icebergs and explored the island. The icebergs were unique and reflected some of the most vibrant shades of turquoise and blue that I’ve ever seen. The biggest highlight was definitely the rare arched iceberg that we found – just majestic! The island had the most diverse vegetation we’ve seen so far; grasses and mosses of all sorts. The black, green, and orange color contrast on the rock face was just so pristine. The island also had a whole lot of friendly Adélie penguins! After lunch, we headed off to meet some Ukrainian scientists.
Icebergs! Narnia! Adelies, leopard seals, rocks, mosses, grasses - beautiful.
Vernadsky Station, formerly the British owned Faraday research base, was passed on to the Ukrainians for all of one British pound, back in the day. Vernadski is one of Antarctica’s most active scientific research bases; we got a guided tour of their laboratories and saw and were explained, briefly, their atmospheric, biologic, and climatologic research techniques. The station has the oldest Antarctic temperature database and is an important tool for climate change research. Their ozone monitoring played a key role in our most early detection of ozone depletion, leading to the Montreal Accord and the reduction of our CFC usage. We hope that similar governmental action on GHG emissions will soon be a result of such studies. Making our way back to the ship, we stumbled upon a leopard seal, resting on an iceberg nearby. Santiago pulled right up beside him and all of a sudden I found myself face to face (less than a meter away!) with the most ferocious seal in Antarctica; the penguin eater!
Finally, we headed back to the ship where Olle gave an interesting lecture on whales and seals to cap off the incredible day!
Tomorrow is our last day in Antarctica! We are aiming for a whale and hike day to prepare ourselves for the crossing of the mighty Drake Passage.
Student Lukas Sundermann
Journal Entry by Florian Hofmann and Lukas Sundermann
Was macht man in der Antarktis um 5 Uhr morgens? Nein, nicht schlafen, sondern aufstehen und Eiskerne auf einer kleinen Insel ohne Namen nehmen. Mit dem Glaziologie-Kurs haben wir mehrere Meter Eiskerne gezogen. Aus diesen wurden Proben genommen und auf dem Schiff analysiert. Die Geologie der Inselgruppe fiel uns natürlich gleich ins Auge. Es müsste sich um einen Randbereich einer Magmakammer handeln, durch die einige Gänge durchgeschlagen sind. Wir wären gerne noch länger geblieben, weil sich eine Kartierung dort wirklich lohnen würde.
Nach dieser Anstrengung haben wir ausführlich gefrühstückt und uns schon wieder auf die nächste Landung vorbereitet. Es ging auf eine weitere Insel mit einer kleinen Gentoo-Kolonie, auf der wir unerwartet Gras gefunden haben. Die reichhaltige Vegetation, die aus Flechten und Moosen bestand, ist für diese Breitengrade untypisch. Auf einer der Fahrt mit den Zodiacs gab es Eisberge in Form von großen Bögen und einen Seeleoparden aus nächster Nähe zu sehen.
Die dritte Landung des Tages war auf der Vernadsky-Station, einer ehemalig britischen und jetzt ukrainischen Forschungsstation. Dort werden unter anderem Ozonmessungen durchgeführt und atmosphärische Daten erhoben. Die Station war sehr einladend, es gab eine Bar mit Billiardtisch und zu Trinken – was sonst – Wodka!
Als wir am Abend zurück aufs Schiff kamen, brutzelte das Asado auf dem Grill an Deck und wir bekamen zum Abendessen ein argentinisches Barbecue.
A view of a glacier wall
Journal Entry by Munira Shaipudin Shah, Kampung Belangkan/ University of Malaya
My reflection of the day OR What the Antarctic means to a Tropical girl OR A tropical view of the pole ;)
I feel like I don’t belong…that was the first impression I had when I first came on this trip. Little had I realized, I was being selfish and ignorant. I didn’t even give myself the chance to truly be part of this experience. I was there physically, but I wasn’t really there mentally. That was a few days back.. Or was it a week back? Seriously, in the Antarctic it is that easy to lose the sense of time (fyi.. I still do not know what day or date it is today).. I’d like to think that I have grown so much (mentally) since I first embarked on this trip. I guess what I was feeling earlier was something that most of us suffer from. We tend to believe that if we are in the tropics, we need not be part of whatever is happening way, way, way, way, way down here. Seriously, it is not that we are not aware of things that are happening here in the polar region. We are all educated, we learned about the causes and effects way back when we are still in our primary or secondary schools. I guess it is more about the depth of it, whether we truly understand or believe in our causes and actions. Sadly enough, even with all the education we received, we still choose to remain ignorant. I was one of the guilty parties. Luckily, things are not fated to remain so with me. I had this amazing opportunity to actually experience first hand the things that are happening around here. As cheesy as it may sound, this has somewhat been life-changing for me. My perceptions on things are not as narrowed as it was previously. Funny that when I recall how I saw things before, I failed to realize that we are all in the same boat together-not literally though ;)- Would you believe that all of these ecosystems in the world are all interconnected? ;p…This is not about power, whether which region has the power on Antarctica or whatever. This sure ain’t the colonial times. This is, by all means, the matter of managing one of God’s greatest gift to humankinds. Responsibilities that should be borne by everyone. As the world’s population is more concentrated in the equatorial region, what is more right for us to do than breaking out, out of our shells and step into our roles as at least a responsible human being, consumer and so on. Our actions in the equator do play a major role in the continuity of these ecosystems. Somehow, I am glad that if someone who is as ignorant or hardheaded as I am can be made aware of the importance of the Polar Regions, maybe all is not lost, there is still hope for the rest…and if it starts with me, maybe it will continue with others. It is just like the ripples in the water which build up into waves that travel far and long, hopefully…..“Insyaallah”…
* This is just a personal err..something I wish to share… it does not mean when something is foreign to you, you need to feel scared. I did, and I missed out on a lot of things. This is something I did regret a lot but I learned from it. So yah..try to venture out, experience things, be part of an important cause and believe in it…and you might be surprised that you will gain a lot from it ;)
A student holds an ice core sample
Journal Entry by Sydney vanLoon, Pemberton, B.C., University of Northern BC
On the way towards Vernadsky Station
A day left? Sorry, can you repeat that. A day, as in one. That’s single - not plural?
The fair land we have had the fortunate pleasure of uncovering for the past week or so is one that most of us hoped to never leave. And I think many of us are in denial. You had to pinch me when I arrived in Antarctica, and you will have to pinch me even harder when I leave. Our time spent here has not just been another page in the memory book, but an entire hardback with a dozen chapters. And for many of us, hopefully there will be a sequel. With such a remarkable expedition, it will be hard to adjust back into ‘civilization’ and the way we previously led our lives. For me, changes include a variety of things such as going from eating three course meals to the staple student diet of ‘la peanut butter et jam crackers.’ But the more significant changes will be those ‘typical Antarctic’ moments that take your breathe away. Watching a glacier calve, having a leopard seal follow you in a zodiac, seeing an iceberg flip, and sitting among a colony of half a million Adelie penguins all took my breathe away. But so did laughing at the zodiac drivers historic stories, glazing into the distance of a sun setting deep in a royal red sky reflecting off dozens of tabular icebergs and pulling out an ice core from the top of an unnamed island’s windblown summit. Oh, and rocking to sleep on the top bunk, staring out of the port hole window, admiring the Antarctic terns swaying back and fourth in the gusting winds… the chaotic crevasse structures, the “Gooooood morning Students on Ice” morning wake up call, the forever changing landscapes… and, and, and…
On that note, beware people back home. Three words: post trip depression. I just do not know what will be taking my breathe away as much and as often as Antarctica has.
But now I am off to fall in love at the Ukrainian scientific station – Vernadsky and hopefully stay here forever, enabling me to continue on with that greatly anticipated sequel. Whoa, look at that! A leopard seal perched on a tiny iceberg!
Grise Fiord students Jason Qaapik Pijamini and Terry Noah hold up a Nunavut flag in front of Penguins
Student Emilie Hebert-Houle takes an Ice core sample
Bergy bits on shore
Students on Ice Education Program Director Tim Straka sits among Chinstrap Penguins
Students on Ice educator Dr. Marianne Douglas of the University of Alberta