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>Seas: ca 3-5 feet and rising
>Winds 25-27 knots
>Temp 6 C ; w/ wind chill –9C
>Location: Latitude 54 degrees 41.00’ S; Longitude 63 degrees 16.00 W

Above: A Zoea nicknamed "helmet head." (Click for larger image.)
Below: Soft coral taken from the ocean bottom by the Smith-McIntyre grab instrument.

28 November 2004

Welcome back to IWU. As you are returning to campus the R/V LMG is turning to the south as we begin our five-day crossing of the Drake Passage. This is an important part of our project. As you may recall, one focus of this research project is to evaluate the dispersal of larvae across the Antarctic Circumpolar Current to and from benthic environments of Antarctica and South America. Given the cold temperatures of these environments, in the absence of predation, larval life can be very long (months) and may allow sufficient time for dispersal across this oceanic current.

How might one begin to test this hypothesis?

We will adhere to the following protocol. Every four hours for the next five days a sample of plankton (small plants and animals suspended in seawater) will be collected. Hopefully, we will be able to separate and enumerate all larval forms in these plankton samples before the next plankton sample is collected. We are targeting larval forms of annelids (segmented worms) and echinoderms (sea stars, sea urchins, etc.) because some species of these two phyla are found in coastal regions of Antarctica and in South America. Some of these specimens will be preserved for identification and others of the same species or “kind” (larvae of similar morphology and coloration) will be preserved in absolute ethanol for future analyses of population genetics and, by inference, gene flow.

In closing, I should mention that the Drake Passage is a particularly rough oceanic region. There will certainly be an environmental effect on the science groups and the work we can do. Thank goodness for drugs that curtail the effects of motion sickness.



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

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