Monday, 26 February 2007

Lagoon Island

I have just spent a fantastic couple of days on Lagoon Island. It was like a little holiday away from base as I haven't been out to the field this season. It was a bit cold in the hut - I had on Mrs Puffy!

Saturday, 24 February 2007

Humpback and Killer Whales!


Humpback diving

Killer whales

This morning we saw 2 humpback whales off the wharf and yesterday we saw 5 killer whales (orcas). Very exciting!

Friday, 23 February 2007

International Polar Year Youth Website up and running!

The International Polar Year (IPY) Youth Steering Committee (YSC) website is now up and running thanks to James Cheshire from the University of Southampton. Check it out at:

Science minister's visit on the news

Check out BBC Science and Nature for news of the VIP visit

Meeting the Science Minister and Lord Oxburgh

Yesterday the UK Science Minister, MP Malcolm Wicks, and Lord Oxburgh came to visit the Bonner Lab. I told them about my research here and in a wider context and then we took them out on the boats to show them how we monitor water temperature in the bay using the CTD. The BAS Director was also there taking lots of photos! Hopefully, they'll take their enthuasiasm for Antarctica back to the Houses of Parliment.

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Diving Hangar Cove

Our dive boat Stella navigating through the icebergs to Hangar Cove

On site for the dive

Kitting up

Extreme sunset skiing - Stork views

View from the top

Climbing to the summit

We use roped travel on the way up in case a crevasse is accidentally encountered!

Extreme sunset skiing - the climb!

Preparing harnesses for the climb

At the top of Stork Bowl

Ali our marine assistant

Ooops, somebody falling down the mountain!

Antarctica from the air!!!

Boarding our Dash 7 aircraft - she's called Daisy!

Adelaide Island from the air!


South of our island

Yesterday (Tues 20 Feb) I got a place on the Winter Trip Familierisation flight on the Dash 7. What an exciting day - a flight and climbing and skiing!

Cruise Ship Visit

On Monday we were visited by a German cruise ship, the MS Bremen. She docked alongside our wharf (the Biscoe Wharf) and scientists from the Bonner Lab showed guests around our aquarium and research facilities.

Sunday, 18 February 2007

Anchorage Island

Here are some of the view from Anchorage Island towards Adelaide Island. It was a beautiful day!

Sleeping in a melon

The melon hut on Anchorage Island

Inside the hut

My mega expedition sleeping bag

Earlier this week I stayed a night on Anchorage Island to help a terrestrial biologist called Merlyn with her research. The island is about 5 km off base and we stayed in a melon hut. It was very cold at night but we had good sleeping bags!

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

My Experiments

Measuring the amount of oxygen the animal uses

Clams in the respiration chambers (glass jars!)

Measuring the oxygen content of the water with an oxygen sensitive foil inside the jar

The data feeds into the computer generating graphs of oxygen consumption

I'm researching the metabolic rates of Antarctic marine animals. Animals in Antarctica are very slow growing and have low metabolic rates. Some of the animals I'm studying are over 40 years old! To measure their oxygen use, I keep them in glass or perspex containers for about 6-8 hours and measure the amount of oxygen removed from the seawater over that time.

My Animals

Antarctic brachiopod with youngsters attached

Antarctic clams called Laternula - these live in mud and clay and a lot of digging is involved whilst diving to get them out!

Antarctic sea urchin

One of my holding tanks in the Bonner Lab aquarium

The animals I'm studying have limestone (calcium carbonate) shells or skeletons. These include animals like snails (gastropods), clams (bivalves), sea urchins, brittle stars and brachiopods. I'm researching differences in shell thickness and the type of skeleton animals have in Antarctica. Because the water is very cold here it is difficult to remove calcium carbonate from the surrounding seawater. This is why I'm measuring the amount of energy animals have to use to make their shell or skeleton and comparing these measurements to data from other parts of the world where the water is warmer. It's easier to make a shell or skeleton in warmer waters, but there are more predators to defend against - so shells need to be much thicker!

Monday, 12 February 2007

Diving around a big ship

Me and Helen the Rothera marine assistant in front of our dive boat Stella

Manoeurving around the JCR in Stella

Getting through the icebergs

Just about to go diving - Shack's Crack is the butress behind me
Diving went ahead as normal around the James Clark Ross. There was lots of ice around the wharf so it was a bit tricky to launch our small dive boat - Stella. We went to dive Shack's Crack again to collect sponges for the Rothera marine biologist Jade Berman.

Return of the Royal Research Ship

The RRS James Clark Ross called into base again after a research expedition with the remotely operated underwater vehicle called ISIS. ISIS was exploring the deep sea around Antarctica providing samples and images from the sea bed 3500 m deep. I meet some of my friends Abi and Emily from the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton on the ship and showed Abi some of the work I am doing in the aquarium at the Bonner Lab at Rothera.

Monday, 5 February 2007

Sunset in Antarctica

The sun is finally setting here at 67 degrees South.

Sunday, 4 February 2007

Seals and Lagoon Island

Sundays are days off! Today we went boating to a nearby island - Lagoon Island. It's about 5km from base. There's a hut there with 4 bunk beds and some people from base had stayed there last night. There were elephant and Weddell seals on the island and also 1 fur seal. This was the first fur seal many of us had seen in Antarctica. They start to arrive on base at the end of the summer.

After the trip to Lagoon, I walked around Rothera Point. This is about an hours walk behind base. There were lots more Weddell seals hauled up on the beach and a big ellie seal right next to Bransfield House, the main building on base.