6 November, 1996
Journal November 6, 1996
Today the snow stopped and it's a bright beautiful day, kind of like a clear cold New England day. It is election day and I didn't get to vote. It was a problem for a few of the group members, they had arranged for absentee ballots but the mail in and out of here is sometimes slow. I'm not complaining, the people at the South Pole Station just got mail last week for the first time since last February. A planeload of people from the pole arrived at McMurdo today, they are on their way off the continent. They were easy to spot and they looked awfully anxious to be on their way.
I spent most of the day in the lab today trying to isolate a specific chemical from a sponge. That took from 7:30 to 6:30, of course I'm not finished. Maybe several more days. The second part of the day, from 7:30 to 11:00 was spent helping another group catch Antarctic Cod. We traveled three miles out on the sea ice to a fish hut where hooks had been set on a long line. The project is part of a population study to determine if the number and size of the cod stock is changing. These fish have been heavily hunted and there is concern that their numbers and size are diminishing. Blood samples are also being used to study the proteins that keep ice crystals from forming. These creatures are cold blooded so is their body temperature is the same as the water, 28oF. If fish that normally live in temperate waters where kept at that temperature, their tissue would freeze.
The depth of the water where we were working was about 1500 feet and the hooks were set at about 1200 feet. These fish weighed between 80 and 90 pounds and are one and one half meters long. Since the ice was about five feet thick, getting them out of the water was heavy work. They were brought to the surface, weighted, measured, tagged, aged by collecting several scales, and injected with an antibiotic. The idea was to get them back into the water as quickly as possible. Since the project started, eleven tagged fish have been re-caught. As long as these creatures stay under the sea ice they are at the top of the food chain. When they are at the ice edge, they become pry to the okra or killer whale. The smallest of the catch was about 60 pounds; it was taken back to the aquarium for further study.
At 11:30 I started my journal entry, I think the days should be a few hours longer.
Contact the TEA in the field at .
If you cannot connect through your browser, copy the TEA's e-mail address in the "To:" line of your favorite e-mail package.