Illinois Wesleyan University

Contact IWU | Site Map | Contact Admissions

About IWU | Academics | Admissions | News & Sports     Alumni | Faculty/Staff | Students | Parents/Visitors     Home

>Seas 1-2 feet
>Wind 11 knots
>Temperature: 5.1 C, w/ wind chill –5
>Location: 54 40.89 W 59 24.39 S

Above: Larvae of brittle stars with long curly legs.

27 November 2004

Happy Saturday:

The weather today is lovely. The seas are calm and the ocean breeze is gentle, but the nighttime temperatures are suggestive that we will soon be entering colder climates. We are weaving our way between an area south of the Falkland Islands and the southwest coast of Argentina. Our collections of benthic (bottom dwelling) and planktonic (in the water column) organisms have not significantly changed.

It would seem that this is an opportune time to reveal a little about our (Dr. Balser and my) lives “at sea”. Our cabin is roughly the size of a faculty office and is quite comfortable. It is a “room with a view” as we can look at the sea through our porthole.

We eat very well, possibly too well. Although there is an exercise room, we haven’t been able to find the time to use the facility. So for five weeks the combination of good food and little exercise can result in some significant morphological changes. Thank goodness for relaxed fit jeans.

Our group works a 24-hour day. There are three “teams” that work 4-hour shifts. For example, our “team” was assigned the 8-12 time slot. So, whether it is 8 am or 8 pm, our work session begins and we continue until noon or midnight respectively. This will be our schedule for the remainder of the trip. We’ve slowly become accustomed to this work cycle.

Although there is a common lounge and collection of DVDs and books, our “free” time is spent working in the laboratory. Dr. Balser is working feverishly on her specimens of the pterobranch Cephaladiscus. The greatest challenge to success is the continuous vibration of the R/V LMG. Imagine trying to take a picture of an animal through a microscope that sits atop a washing machine during the spin cycle. Acquiring an acceptable image is difficult. I am still waiting for an abundance of larvae of sea stars – hopefully they will become evident as we enter the waters surrounding the Antarctic Peninsula.

Our travels across the Drake Passage will begin tomorrow night. This is a stretch of water that has impressively bad weather and large wind-driven waves – it will take ca. five days of transit across the Drake. We will be securing all loose items is preparation for rough seas. Just to make life a little more interesting we will be stopping every four hours to take a plankton tow. For all who have used a microscope for extended periods of time, imagine doing so while both you and your specimens are accelerated from side to side. One needs to develop a quick pipette in order to capture the specimens we desire.

That’s all for now.

Project Home
Daily Journals
Background Information
Aboard the LMG
Palmer Station, Antarctica
Antarctic Photo Library
U.S. Antarctic Program
Invertebrate Larvae Page

Projects sponsored by the National Science Foundation

Windows of Wesleyan

All content and images copyright © 2002-2004 Illinois Wesleyan University