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>Seas: What seas? Calm
>Winds 6 knots
>Temp -0.8 C ; w/ wind chill –4.4 C
>Location: Latitude 65 degrees 28.10’ S; Longitude 65 degrees 48.50 W

Above, Results of a "trawl haul."
Below: Brugmann Mountains on Liege Island.
Bottom: The LMG breaking ice in December 2003. To see the contrast, click on the image.
Click on each image for larger view.

12 December 2004

We crossed the Antarctic Circle last night and while doing so, we took one tow over the line (it’s a musical stretch, but at midnight it really was amusing). With plankton net fully deployed we drifted across the 55º 33’ S line and collected the southernmost sample of plankton that I have ever sorted. Alas, although the latitude of collection was unique, the contents of the tow were not, and we collected a number of larvae of ribbon worms (pilidium larvae). We have since turned around and are heading north to make port at Palmer Station on the December 15. The weather remains amazingly calm and, as we steam ahead the ship is rocking no more than 5 degrees to either side — it’s a quiet ride.

To date, I have written primarily about the organisms we have collected. It is, perhaps, appropriate to introduce the other members of our group. In total, there are three United States academic institutions represented in Science Group B-281: Auburn University, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), and, of course, Illinois Wesleyan University. We are all mixed together to form our respective "teams."

The "Auburnites" are led by Dr. Ken Halanych (the Chief Scientist of the cruise) and also include one post-doctoral fellow (Dr. Nerida Wilson), two graduate students (Adriene Burnette and Rebecca Belcher), a research technician (Heather Blasczyk) and one undergraduate student (Jonathan Craft — IWU students should note that this is Jonathan’s second research cruise). They are ultimately responsible for analysis (through gene sequence comparisons) of the genetic structure of populations and the genetic linkage of adult and larval forms.

Dr. Rudi Scheltema (co-principle investigator with Ken Halanych) leads the group from WHOI. Rudi has spent his academic career studying the geographical distribution of marine invertebrate larvae and their potential role in gene flow among allopatric populations. His colleagues from WHOI are Dr. Vicki Starczyk, "Izzy" Williams, Ellen Bailey and two WHOI graduate students (Rob Jennings and Regina Campbell-Malone). Aside from their duties of sorting through plankton tows and benthic trawls, both Ellen and Regina are responsible for our "Outreach" programs to different elementary and middle schools. Vicki is our resident expert on larvae of barnacles — those benthic crustaceans that reside within a calcium carbonate "shell" of their own construction. Interestingly, barnacles were once considered to be mollusks (snails et al.), and it was the study of the larval forms that resulted in their correct phylogenetic placement. Izzy has worked with Rudi for many years and has literally traveled around the world in search of invertebrate larval forms. The primary role of this group is to identify all of the larval forms that are collected on this cruise.

As I am writing this message the 6 a.m. sample has just been retrieved. and the Tucker Trawl must have found something of substance at 500 m because when their net returned to the surface – it was completely shredded. There was but a lone, and unfortunate, ophiuroid (brittle star) entangled in the net bar.

Only 4 more hours to the next station….



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