Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Antarctic Expedition 2009
March 6 - April 15, 2009
Northwestern Weddell Sea


This map shows the ship's track during the 40-day expedition in
the Weddell SeaThe Last Day!
April 15, 2009

The RVIB Nathaniel B. Palmer arrived in Punta Arenas late last night and docked behind the ARSV Laurence M. Gould, the other ship in the United States Antarctic Program.
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This map shows the ship's track during the 40-day expedition in
the Weddell SeaThe End is Drawing Near
April 14, 2009

This map shows the ship's track during the 40-day expedition in the Weddell Sea.
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Ben Twining checks the boxes of frozen samples that will be shipped in special temperature-controlled boxes back to the University of South Carolina.First Sight of Land
April 13, 2009

We came within our first sight of land late this afternoon as the ship approached Isla de los Estados at the southeastern edge of Argentina.
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Waves break over the bow of the RVIB Nathaniel B. Palmer as it crosses the Drake PassageThe Antarctic Circumpolar Current
April 12, 2009

We are now nearly one-third of the way across the Drake Passage, the notoriously rough waterway that connects the southeastern Pacific Ocean to the southwestern Atlantic Ocean.
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Crew pull in MOCNESS nets.The Frenzy Before the Storm
April 11, 2009

As the Palmer began heading north this morning on its journey back to Punta Arenas, the science teams began the time-consuming process of packing up samples, instruments, and lab supplies.
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Caves and ledges imaged by ROV IceCUBE during a dive underneath a iceberg in the Weddell SeaWhat Does the Underside of an Iceberg Look Like?
April 10, 2009

What does an iceberg look like underwater? ROV IceCUBE has recorded several hours of video footage underneath the icebergs being studied in this expedition, and has uncovered surfaces with pockmarks, linear crevices, caves, and jutting spires.
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Launch of the CTD RosetteThe Last Set of Water Collections
April 9, 2009

The last water collections and science activities finished in “Iceberg Alley” this afternoon.
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Remote-controlled airplane delivers a GPS tagTake to the Skies
April 8, 2009

In anticipation of favorable weather, the UAV team prepared a plane with a new housing for the GPS drop tag.
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Lagrangian sediment trapThe LST Team
April 7, 2009

We travelled northeast through the night to return to the site where a Lagrangian sediment trap (LST) was deployed three days ago.
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A humpback whale swims near the RVIB Nathaniel B. Palmer in the central Weddell Sea. Spy-hopping
April 6, 2009

Today we had a memorable encounter with a small pod of whales. Three humpbacks cavorted near the ship just after lunchtime.
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Cole Hexel nets an ice chunkIce Collecting
April 5, 2009

Onlookers gathered on the bow to watch as a Zodiac boat was lowered into the water.
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ROV IceCUBE diving on a icebergSearching for an iceberg amongst many
April 4, 2009

The search was on for an iceberg that could be studied with ROV IceCUBE.
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Karie Sines prepares to filter samples from a phytoplankton culture experiment.Bottles and Bottles of Seawater
April 3, 2009

Bottles and bottles of seawater samples were processed in the research labs today.
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Rob Sherlock and Stephanie Bush extract samplesLast Chance for Samples
April 2, 2009

Today was the final day at iceberg C-18A and researchers pushed to collect their last samples before leaving. ROV IceCUBE completed two biology dives for the Robison lab, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
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The MOCNESS team recovers the nets.Gelatinous Grazers
April 1, 2009

In a light swirling snow, the MOCNESS nets were brought back onto the ship before sunrise this morning. The catch was noticeably different than the night before in both species diversity and overall abundance.
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Retrieving the plane after a successful flight.Unmanned Flight
March 31, 2009

Science activities filled the day and every group busied themselves with sample collection and processing. After an early morning deployment of the shallow towfish, ROV IceCUBE was readied to conduct a biology dive...
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A tomopterid worm collected in a MOCNESS net trawl.Winds and Waves
March 30, 2009

High winds and waves made the seas too rough for most science equipment to be deployed last night. The science schedule was adjusted and the time was used to complete another surface mapping survey.
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A CTD rosette is lowered into the ocean on a rough day.Rough Seas
March 29, 2009

Stormy seas with winds gusting more than 45 knots curtailed science operations this morning. As the ship rocked and rolled, the zooplankton team sorted net samples from the late-night tow of the MOCNESS system.
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Chemist Cole Hexel working with radium.Chemistry in the Antarctic
March 28, 2009

The chemistry group—Tim Shaw, Cole Hexel, and Scott Kindelberger—has been quietly taking samples and providing behind-the-scenes support for many of the research groups involved in this study.
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Layers of white and blue show seasonal freeze/thaw cycles in
this iceberg fragment. Beautiful icebergs provide photo opportunities.
March 27, 2009

The icebergs and growlers that we passed today have been many shapes, sizes, and color variations. White, blue, green, and streaks of brown make each one unique.
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A coating of snow collects on an workboat located below the
starboard lifeboat. From one iceberg to the next.
March 26, 2009

Yesterday evening, the principal investigators analyzed measurements around iceberg B-15L to determine if it could be the next study site. Late last night they decided to move on to another iceberg
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View of iceberg B-15L as the ship circumnavigates around it. B-15, The World’s Largest Iceberg
March 25, 2009

Today we arrived at iceberg B-15L, a long, tabular iceberg similar to C-18A in appearance and size (28km long by 12km wide). We began by circumnavigating around the iceberg to assess its shape and the direction of its drift.
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Seabirds in flight around an iceberg in the Weddell Sea.Transit to Iceberg B-15L
March 24, 2009

Through the night, the ship completed a final surface mapping of iceberg C-18A, returning to the same area where measurements first took place at the beginning of the study.
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Graduate student Hai Lin processes iron samples in the trace metal van.The Calm Before the Storm
March 23, 2009

Today ended up being our last day near iceberg C-18A. Though the weather improved considerably from the night before, satellites show a large storm system moving toward us within the next 24 hours.
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John Helly uses a laser mapping system to measure iceberg C-18A.Sampling Near and Far
March 22, 2009

To better characterize the influence of the iceberg on surrounding waters, sampling has been divided into near and far stations. Surface mapping early in the study of iceberg C-18A established a background of typical open ocean parameters, such as temperature and salinity, to help the science team determine these sampling stations.
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Alana Sherman looking at the first Lagrangian sediment sample from under Iceberg C18a.Lagrangian Sediment Trap Recovery
March 21, 2009

After a day of searching, researchers found and recovered the Lagrangian sediment sampler that collected samples from under Iceberg C18a.
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Kim Reisenbichler, Ken Smith, Alana Sherman, and Jeremy Lucke manage ROV IceCUBE's tether during a biology dive.Managing the tether of the ROV IceCUBE.
March 20, 2009

The wind increased considerably today but in the lee of the iceberg, the seas were still relatively calm, allowing sampling activities to continue throughout the day.
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Ben Twining fills water samples in the "bubble," a special trace metal clean area in the wet lab.Sampling Seawater from the Face of the Iceberg
March 19, 2009

For a brief few hours today the weather looked favorable for flying the UAV aircraft to drop GPS tags on the iceberg. The seas were smooth and winds had lessened to only a few knots in the lee of the berg, but it was the sun—or lack of it—that interfered.
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Rob Sherlock uses a microscope to identify an unknown jelly from a MOCNESS trawl.The Importance of Iron
March 18, 2009

A bleary-eyed MOCNESS team recovered nets again at o’dark-thirty this morning and spent the day sorting through krill, salps, and other denizens of the midwater.
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Ron Kaufmann, Larry Lovell and Stephanie Bush sort MOCNESS samples.MOCNESS Morning
March 17, 2009

Well before the sun came up this morning, Ron Kaufmann’s team assembled on the back deck to recover the MOCNESS 10m2 net system that had been towed behind the ship for the past six hours.
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LST team celebrates the first deployment of the instrument under an iceberg.Testing the Trap
March 16, 2009

Early this morning, the engineering team (Alana Sherman, Paul McGill & Ken Smith) sent a Lagrangian sediment trap (LST) under a smaller iceberg that was about 16 km away from C-18A.
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Maria Vernet checks data in the dry lab. Surface Mapping
March 15, 2009

The surface mapping project continued through the night and into the early evening today as the ship followed a grid pattern around the iceberg. This pattern is referred to as “mowing the lawn”
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25-30 knot winds.Planning the Science
March 14, 2009

We continued our course to iceberg C18a today. At the daily science meeting, the principal investigators planned their equipment deployment and sampling for the first days around the iceberg.
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R/V Laurence M. Gould in Maxwell Bay, King George Island.Back to Iceberg C18a
March 13, 2009

The ship stayed near the Frei field station last night but moved out of the harbor at Maxwell Bay on our way back to Iceberg C18a.
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Iceberg with chinstrap and gentoo penguins; King George Island is in the background. Medical detour places science on hold
March 12, 2009

Today our science sampling went on hold as we made a medical detour for one of the ship’s personnel. The Antarctic region is extremely remote and the ship is prepared with trained medical technicians, supplies, and a link to doctors on shore that can be consulted when issues arise.
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ROV IceCUBE being retrieved from the ocean. the clear tubing, taped to the red tether, pumps clean seawater back to the ship.What does it mean to be “clean?”
March 11, 2009

This morning began sunny and bright at a location several miles away from C18a, where the CTD was used to collect seawater samples. Ben Twining’s group also deployed gear in this area, testing special trace metal clean water bottles.
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Stephanie Bush, Alana Sherman, & Paul McGill ready ROV IceCUBE for deployment.

March 10, 2009

Around 10 pm last night, we gathered on the bridge in excitement as the ship approached iceberg C18a. The iceberg was a bright red line on the ship’s radar but the wispy fog obscured the powerful spotlights sweeping into the night.
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The southern edge of Clarence Island off the bow of the ship.Clarence Island
March 9, 2009

Just after noon we reached Clarence Island and moved to the east side in what we hoped would be the lee from the westerly wind. Dark jagged peaks covered in ice were hidden in a froth of white clouds.
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Map showing line of positions of equal latitude and longitude across the globe.Finding Icebergs
March 8, 2009

Since we can’t simply just drive around the ocean to find an iceberg to study, how do we figure out where to go?
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ROV IceCUBE in the wet lab getting prepared for deployment. A red tether with special clean water tubing  will be connected for chemistry samples. Temperatures Drop
March 7, 2009

The ship passed around Cape Horn today and began the crossing of the Drake Passage. The temperature has been dropping as we head south. The water near Tierra del Fuego this morning was 9°C and air temperature 21°C (70°F).
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Marine technicians review deck operation safety procedures on the back deck during the the first day at sea.Ship departure and training
March 6, 2009

After the last lines were thrown off the dock, the RVIB Nathaniel B. Palmer left the Punta Arenas port and began its transit across the Straits of Magellan to the Argentine coast and into the South Atlantic Ocean.
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IceburgExpedition Homepage
Find out why our scientists and equipment are in the Antarctic.

ResearchersLife on the Ship
Find out what it's like to be on a research ship out in the antarctic.

ROV PhantomExpedition Equipment
A detailed look and description of the equipment used on this cruise.

Ken SmithResearch Team
Meet and see photos of the scientists on this cruise.

Google EarthFollow the ship's voyage
A link to the expedition's voyage on Google Earth.

phytoplanktonExploratorium's Ice Stories
Antarctica's Iceberg Phytoplankton

Additional Links