28 November, 1996
Today was Thanksgiving Day, my time. We didn't acknowledge the holiday although Bill did have a turkey sandwich for lunch and another for supper. It's been eight weeks since the project started. Time seems to have been redefined for me. Since it's never dark, it feels like one very long day. My body clock has been messed up. Getting back to New England will be strange for me; I've gotten to like the views, the ice, the clean air, the quiet, and the lack of artificial lights. I would like to be here when it is always dark, to enjoy the night sky and the Southern Lights. I don't miss radio, TV, or the newspaper. A friend once told me "after being in Antarctica you'll never be the same", it may be true.
When I got up this morning I intended to catch up on my Journal. It's 11:30 PM and I've just begun. We're being helicoptered to melt water pools on the other side of the Sound in the morning and there were some last minute preparations. Before that, there was a day of lab work.
Today Jenni, scanned an underwater slide that Jim Mastro took during one of the dives. He has a good photographic record of the organisms in the local environment. With over two hundred and fifty Antarctic dives, he qualifies as an authority.
His photo gives an idea why Bill is looking for natural products in invertebrates. The large ball like object in the center of the photo is a sponge called Latrunculia apicalis. Like most benthic organisms, it needs to attach to something solid. Since the bottom is soft with a limited number of rocks, many organisms compete for the small number of available sites. This slow growing sponge has obviously won the battle even though it appears completely passive. The mechanism that gives it an advantage in its environment is chemical warfare. We have collected this species and found that a number of microbes will not grow near it. Our task is to try to find the compounds that are responsible for its defense. I'll spend more time in the following weeks telling the story of how we go about it.
I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving Holiday and takes a few moments to remember the things we have to be thankful for.
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