Where Biology and Chemistry Meet

After three days of overcast skies and whitecaps, today the wind settled and the sky cleared. Sun warmed the observation deck on the bow, and stiff-winged snow petrels flittered among the waves as if impatient for the wind to return. We had steamed south about 120 miles to get some more information from an interesting area we had visited last week.

The ship coasted to a stop around 2 p.m. and the CTD rosette went over the side. Teams began sampling water for another round of experiments. One of these groups was the team led by Dr. Adam Kustka of Rutgers University. They are testing how phytoplankton respond when they are given Modified Circumpolar Deep Water or extra iron. Read on through the slideshow to meet the team:

In the evening the ship set course for a long steam back to McMurdo Station, where we will refuel. (We still have plenty of fuel, but the Palmer has a long voyage back to South America after our trip ends, and this is its best chance to refuel.) Getting to McMurdo will take all day tomorrow, but after we refuel we’ll head back out for another two and a half weeks of research.

From up on the bow, delicate mare’s tail clouds curled across the blue sky, and the low midnight sun lit the southern horizon. We passed a group of about 30 orcas that were spread out on either side of the ship. Their spouts were visible all around, and their long dorsal fins stood high over the waves as they broke the surface. Tomorrow, we’ll see Mount Erebus and Ross Island on the horizon again.

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About Hugh Powell

Hugh is a staff writer at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and is on special assignment with the Rutgers University Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences. He has previously written for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

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