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>Winds 10 knots
>Temp 10.6 C ; w/ wind chill 4.4 C
>Location: Latitude 55 degrees 37.89’ S; Longitude 64 degrees 38.60 W

Above: Susie Balser's photograph of Bipinnaria, which looks like an amoeba that has swallowed its bubble gum
Click on each image for larger view.

20 December 2004

We’re seemingly sprinting our way back through the Strait of Magellan the dock at Punta Arenas. We crossed the Antarctic Front several hours ago, and we are passing through significantly warmed water (8º C), and the air temperature is above freezing even with the wind chill. I realize that this may seem very odd to you, but it feels warm outside.

We continue to take samples of the surface plankton every 40 miles, and we have yet to leave the "sea of green." There is a high abundance of phytoplankton (plant plankton) in the water (e.g., diatoms). Both drift and towed tows look like a very thick split pea soup when they are brought on board.

I cannot adequately express the "joy" we all feel when we are faced with three hours sorting through this muck in search of a larva or two. It is, however, important that these samples be carefully examined as we are seeking to collect these small organisms from a vast volume of water. Our group has taken its last plankton sample, but we are predicted to sort the last collected tow tonight. This will conclude our scientific activities aboard the LMG.

All groups will return to their respective home institutions with a wealth of material to study. We are coming home with two boxes of specimens of preserved material (>150 vials and bottles) and 100+ specimens embedded in an epoxy resin (for cutting histological sections). This short little cruise will keep us and our students quite busy in the near future.

There are only four more shopping days ‘til Christmas


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Palmer Station, Antarctica
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Projects sponsored by the National Science Foundation

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