May 9, 2007
As the plane lands in Punta Arenas, Chile I am on my way to one of the most anticipated adventures of my life. I am aware of the many questions I have concerning this research experience. First let me explain my upcoming adventure. I will be participating in the "Antarctica - Crabeater Seal Tagging and Patagonia Icefish Project." This project has 2 groups of research scientists on board. One group of scientists will be capturing Crabeater Seals and attaching transmitters on the seals back. This transmitter will relay data back to the ship for approximately 1 year. The data transmitted will be GPS location, dive depths, salinity, and temperature data. This data will be used in oceanographic research, it is always a goal to understand ocean currents especially when trying to predict weather. I will actually get a chance to go onto the ice flow, capture a 500 pound seal, tranquilize and glue the transmitter on.
My other job on the ship will be going out with the Icefish group of scientists to catch as many Icefish as possible. This group of scientists are studying the blood properties of these fish. There is no hemoglobin (the substance in our blood that carries the oxygen molecule) which makes these fish very unique. The scientists are also studying the anti-freeze make up of the fishes blood. I will be staying on the R.V. Laurence M. Gould. The ship is 267 feet long and is considered an icebreaker. Since I am headed to Antarctica in the dead of winter, I sure hope it works.
I went to the town square today and kissed the toe of the famous statue. This will give me good luck in crossing the Straits of Magellan. I heard today there were 38 foot swells out there. Whoa, those are big waves. I sail out on Saturday, May 12th and return to Chile on June 3rd. The sail to Palmer Station, Antarctica (Population 28) takes 4 days, not a quick jaunt - no wonder only 3,000 US citizens get to go to Antarctica a year. I do feel wonder and gratitude when I realize I am one of the lucky few. Thank you ARMADA for this wonderful adventure.