Back in Open Water

Our plans to go south and sample Marguerite Bay were foiled by ice. We reached an area where the ship was only moving by 100s of meters at a time with much backing and ramming, and a decision was made to head back to more open waters to the north. So north we are, sampling in deeper waters off the shelf. It is frustrating to have to run north – I was really looking forward to collecting krill under the ice. Krill feed under the ice at this time of year, because there are lots of microscopic plants and animals which make the ice their home. I was hoping to catch krill near the ice and use them to find out which of these ice organisms they eat. It is also sad to leave the ice because I love that magical world, with everything sparkling white, seals resting on the ice, and mountains in the distance. Heading north felt like heading towards home – even though we still have over a week of working left – and I don’t want to leave Antarctica.

It’s hard to stay grumpy for long though here. Today as the water sampler was in the water, a whole group of penguins were hanging out around the ship.

We also took part in a cruise tradition this morning – shrinking Styrofoam cups. As you go deep into the ocean the pressure of the water on top of you increases – each 30 feet you go down adds as much pressure as all the air above us in the atmosphere! This pressure squishes the air and makes it smaller. It’s basically the opposite of why your ears hurt and pop when you go up in an airplane. We drew with water proof markers on Styrofoam cups, and then put them in a bag on our water sampler, and sent them down to 3,000 feet deep! When they came up they were much smaller since all the air inside them had been squished!

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Categories: Musings of an Oceanographer | Leave a comment

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