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International Polar Year:
Bacterioplankton genomic adaptations to Antarctic winter

Vivian Peng

Blogs: Vivian Peng (Research Associate)


Aug 30-Sept 3. Reports from the field. Gone Fishin'...

After the successful med- evac, the LMG came back to Palmer Station, allowing the science to continue and station operations return to the much-needed normalcy. The Gould spent a day breaking the ice around the pier and Hero Inlet (where our pier is located). Entertainment was provided for both folks on the boat and on station. Human waves were created, yoga poses were performed, communications were shouted between the bow of the ship and the balcony of the galley and many photos were snapped in the first clear beautiful day we had since the chaos began. (see yoga photo on photos page). It felt good standing on Gamage Point and to just be in the sunlight. It felt good seeing friends that I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to on the exodus.

Return of the LMG enabled our group to join some members of the DeVries group for a fishing expedition – and for us to collect some samples off-shore of Anvers Island – this will give us a larger perspective on the nearshore work we’ve been doing at Palmer Station – to see if trends we see here apply to the greater Antarctic Peninsula region. Tying up the ship, offloading and on loading minimal cargo and science personnel went smoothly. Hugh, Matthew, and Joe set up the lab space that we needed for our sample collection. (see our photo of the filtration system setup on board the LMG) Hugh stayed onboard to help with the sample collections and processing. Chris Selgia from station also came aboard to help out. We untied, pushed away, and set sail for Palmer Deep (an LTER station). (see the photo of station receding into the distance).

Once at station, we sampled our two depths. We used the CTD for the deep (500m) sample and the Submersible (the Monsoon) pump for the surface (10m) sample, sampling at the same time. Working late into the night and into the wee hours of the morning, we concentrated both samples using the tangential flow filtration system which will be used for downstream molecular biological research. The whole process took about 8 hours. (See our shipboard sampling photos).

One day on, one day off. The next day (day two of our cruise), we found ourselves steaming between Paradise Harbor and the more “open” waters of the Gerlache Straight. The skies remained gray and cloudy with only a sliver of sun off on the horizon. It was a day to catch up on sleep and recover.

Day Three of the cruise was marked with an early sample collection similar to the one we had the first night of the cruise. Processing of the collection went a lot faster than the first, or so it seemed. The cogs of the collection machine were warmed up and ready to go. Unfortunately, it was the last large volume collection that we would be taking. It seemed that the fun had just started.

On the last full day of the cruise, we started in the morning with a surface water (10m) collection. Since our main goal of the trip to collect high volumes of water for the purpose of RNA/DNA/molecular work was met, we were looking for opportunities to sample surface water for community profiling in other locations. Since we were still in the Gerlache Straight that morning, we got an opportunity to take such a sample. Once we took our sample, the chief scientist of the cruise decided we would go to La Peyrere Bay to survey for potential fishing conditions and do a trawl. (see La Peyrere Bay Photos).

La Peyrere Bay is probably one of the most gorgeous places I’ve been to on this planet so far. There are pretty places and there are gorgeous places. I would probably say that this is a gorgeous place. Here we took another sample in the beautiful blue water in the full sunlight. After we took the sample, we proceeded with the survey of the bottom of the bay and then started a trawl. In order for us to get back to station on the 3rd of September, we had to leave the bay by 7:30pm that night. The amount of ice that was between the station and us would serve only to slow us down.

By breakfast the next morning, we were still 20 miles out and making slow progress through the ice. We ended up tying up at the pier about a couple of hours late. But that’s okay. The fact that we could tie up at the pier was a joyous event enough. Off-loading was quick and painless, coming back to many things to learn…a little daunting and invigorating at the same time.

All in all, it was a very good fishing trip to a gorgeous place.
Stay tuned for a few more entries … should be a busy month wrapping things up.

- Vivian Peng for B-229