First off, the National Geographic cruise ship, the Explorer, was amazing. The vessel carried 140 tourists that came in waves onto Palmer Station raiding our gift shop and devouring the brownies Diane and Beaver left out for them. We moved around some tables and made a little show room in our dining area where station science folk could meet and greet the eager tourists. We had a wide variety of people asking all sorts of questions. A memorable question to one of the our female bird scientists was, “Why would a young woman like yourself want to stay on this station for so long?” hinting that being down here would hinder her fitness of finding a mate. Most of the questions we were asked were about our gliders, they were a hit. Kaycee stood by our poster and fielded many questions for the better part of the afternoon. After the tourists left station, those of us living here were invited onto the ship for a tour. Many of us jumped at that opportunity to head over to the cruise ship, including Kaycee, Travis, and I. When we arrived they ushered us into a large open room with 140 pairs of eyes staring at us; we were all a bit overwhelmed. We introduce ourselves one by one before being asked questions from the audience. Later, when we finished the question and answer part of the evening, our group was given a tour of the ship. This floating hotel was gorgeous with many plush amenities, including a sun room where one could have a hot beverage and read a book or be served a light lunch. Looking upon Palmer Station from the ship’s bow, the front of the ship, gave such a different perspective of our home. Especially with the bright sun and blue sky that day, we had an amazing view (and a couple really good pictures). After our time was up, we invited the staff of the ship to come over for a party where the station’s band was played for them. The Explorer’s crew doesn’t get many chances to unwind so they all seemed to enjoy a little time off the boat and received a free show while they were at it! Since then, we have received another visit from the Explorer Monday with a different set of passengers as well as the Kapitan Khlebnikov, a Russian polar tourist ship today. Unfortunately, Travis, Kaycee, and I have been too busy with science to speak with these tourists, yet there are several other chances this season to talk with excited tourists about our science.
Now, for an update on how the holiday actually went down here at Palmer Station. The night before thanksgiving, several of us were helping out in the kitchen with the army of pies that would be presented the next day. I chose to make an apple pie with a twist. Since we are in Antarctica we chose to cut out shapes of penguins, krill, and multiple other shapes to make the pies more exciting. With the addition of a beautiful hand made krill (made by Kelsey Ducklow) on the top of our masterpiece, krill apple pie was born. We pushed all the tables together in order to create a warm family feel for the Thanksgiving meal. We also decorated the galley to make it more festive. People came down to dinner dressed to impress. Some women brought out dresses, while the men were wearing button down shirts with khaki pants. I decided that I wanted to wear a tie so I made one out of my napkin and shoved it between two buttons on my polo shirt. It served a dual purpose; great for cleaning my mouth when needed and stylish too! The food was laid out buffet style with many of the traditional Thanksgiving food groups. This included turkey and stuffing, both prepared two different ways. Before long people were running over to the dessert table tearing into an assortment of pies and other tasty treats. After we all finished being gluttons, everyone pitched in with the clean up and put the tables back in their places. Then, as a community, almost everyone walked over to the lounge to watch a movie before the inevitable food coma could set in. Although the celebration lasted one night, the leftovers (especially the pies) lasted a few days. All and all it was a good holiday and I am looking forward to celebrating more on station when the Palmer family can sit down to enjoy good food and good company.
Recently, we had an influx of new residents on station in the form of journalists and a poet. The National Science Foundation (NSF), the organization that funds our work down here, has a program that brings down journalists every year as well as a separate program that selects a professional artist. These new residents will live on station for two and a half weeks, finding inspiration and stories to take home with them to share with the rest of the world. The four women have alternated helping different science groups sample out on the zodiacs and learning to conduct science in the lab. They have been blogging themselves and have written about some of our work. Kaycee’s picture is front and center in a Nature Magazine blog post about our ocean acidification experiment, which Travis will describe in our next post. For those that don’t know what Nature is, it is one of the two most prestigious science journals that anyone could get published in. Basically Kaycee is a rock star now, or at least we tell her that anyway.
Below I have the links to blogs from the three journalists and the lead scientist who runs the journalist program: