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>Seas: < 5-6 feet
>Winds 25 knots
>Temp -1.4 C ; w/ wind chill –14 C
>Location: Latitude 62 degrees 59.23’ S; Longitude 61 degrees 18.62 W

Above, a Scale Worm (aka, sea mouse) shown to scale with forceps above.
Below: Closeup of a Syllid worm, nicknamed Happy Cat.
Bottom: Some of the lab crew on deck. Illinois Wesleyan's Susie Balser is at far left.
Click on each image for larger view.

7 December 2004

Happy Hump Day – today signifies the exact middle of the cruise.

Although the temperature has risen to 1.4&Mac176;C the winds have been steady at 25 knots and the resulting wind chill is –14&Mac176;C. Undaunted, we dressed appropriately and we were out on the back deck sorting yet another benthic sample for ca. 2.5 h this morning.

You might be thinking, why do you need to collect so many animals? It is a quite reasonable inquiry. As you might recall the focus of the supported research is to look for gene flow between allopatric populations of benthic marine invertebrates that are separated by the Drake Passage. The only reasonable and recent agents for gene flow are planktonic larval forms. So to address this question, taking samples from as many sites on either side of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current as possible is desirable. However, one can ask a similar question within a particular "side." This enters the realm of population genetics where the presence or absence of gene flow results in either genetic homo- or heterogeneity among populations. Populations that are geographically close, does not necessarily mean that there is a connecting gene flow.

Careful examination of genetic diversity on finer geographical scales will be necessary to evaluate this question — hence another reason for such intense sampling. A further and perhaps less obvious reason is to make collections that document the fauna in these areas. As you might imagine, access to these waters and this fauna is not available to all and the collection we are making here will serve as a faunistic library. For instance, someone studying a particular genus of sea star (e.g., Odontaster) in the future might well contact Ken Halanych, who is one of the principal investigators on our expedition, to request access to the material that have been collecting (O. validus).

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