Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

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

Life on the ship

The colorful view of Punta Arenas greeted the science teams back to land.Land!
April 15, 2009

After being cleared for customs, the science groups were allowed off the ship late last night.
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A pilot boat transfers a pilot onboard the Palmer.Pilot Boats
April 14, 2009

A pilot boat approached the ship in the afternoon and transferred a pilot from the small vessel onto the ship.
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Hai Lin and Scott Kindelberger do iron and peroxide analyses in the trace metal van. The portable laboratory provides a clean environment, reducing the chance of sample contamination from external sources.Portable Laboratories
April 13, 2009

When it was built in 1992, the Nathaniel B. Palmer was designed to accommodate a wide range of scientific research.
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Waves rock the ship around as we cross the Drake Passage, but mechanisms such as anti-roll tanks are keeping our transit as smooth as possible. Stability
April 12, 2009

As we cross through the roughest water yet on the cruise, science groups made sure to prepare equipment and themselves for the stormy Drake Passage.
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Color-coded pipes and machinery weave through the lower deck.Engine Room Procedures
April 11, 2009

The engine room, located below the main deck and below the water line, houses the engines, generators, freshwater distillers, wastewater processing, and other essential ship machinery.
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One of four 8-cylinder diesel engines powering the ship.Inner Workings
April 10, 2009

Four 3,000-hp diesel engines power the 93.9m long ship. The Palmer typically runs on two engines in open water, though some activities, such as breaking heavy ice or maneuvering into port, require more or less engine output.
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Sunsets last over an hour in the polar ocean because the sun moves more slowly across the sky.Long Sunsets
April 9, 2009

Sunrises and sunsets last longer in polar regions.
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A Cape Petrel is reflected in the Weddell Sea's glassy surface.Drinking Water
April 8, 2009

As part of being self-contained, the Palmer generates its own fresh drinking water from seawater
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penguinsWastewater and Plumbing
April 7, 2009

Our first introduction to the wastewater system on the Palmer was the extremely loud flush of the ship’s toilets.
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Ready at the MOCNESS trawlRushing to be Ready for the Cruise
April 6, 2009

Visiting Antarctic waters is a rare opportunity; for weeks in advance, the science team prepared for the upcoming two-month hiatus from ordinary life in various ways
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Plums, chocolate milk, perishables.Preserving Perishables
April 5, 2009

When the cruise began, each meal included a salad bar stocked with fresh pineapple, carrots, mango, avocado, melon slices, radishes, and a variety of greens.
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Adele penguins catch a ride on a chunk of ice floating nearby.Life in the Southern Ocean
April 4, 2009

Today we moved into an area that is rich with icebergs and rich with life.
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Huge propellors seen during a recent drydock of the RHIV PalmerWhat does it take to be an icebreaker?
April 3, 2009

This photo, taken while the Palmer was in dry dock, shows the ship's massive propellers and rudders, which are protected from backing into ice by an ice knife above.
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Dan Elsberg runs the data acquisition software during a CTD rosette deployment.Support Staff
April 2, 2009

Land-based involvement in this cruise has been invaluable, but this post will focus on those who are on the cruise with us. The onboard support staff from RPSC accommodate the science that needs to be done while considering the realities of being at sea.
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Kim and Craig pilot the UAV.Multiple Hats
April 1, 2009

The number of science crew the Palmer can accommodate is fewer than the number of positions available for the science teams. Some people wear multiple hats, participating with multiple science groups or lending a hand where needed.
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Kim and Craig pilot the UAV.Bringing a Little Bit of Home
March 31, 2009

Forty days is a long time to be away from home; people onboard had to leave husbands, wives, children, and friends behind. We have been at sea for 26 days now, but many people are still comforted by mementos from home.
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Diane Chakos, Maria Vernet, Karie Sines, and Lindsey Eckern are prepared for the outdoors on a cold, sunny day.Venturing Outdoors
March 30, 2009

Preparing to go outside of the ship’s heated interior takes a considerable amount of time. Most indoor areas are heated to 20ºC or higher, while outside temperatures are typically around 0ºC.
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Marine science technician Lindsey Ekern prepares nutrient samples in the hydro lab on the Palmer.Long Workdays and Long Vacations
March 29, 2009

Support staff from Raytheon Polar Services Corporation (RPSC) help scientists with the ship’s logistics, science equipment, chemicals, labs, computers, and electronics.
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Ben Twining and Maria Vernet study data plots to plan their
sampling schedules.Planning the Science
March 28, 2009

Ben Twining and Maria Vernet study data plots to plan their sampling schedules.
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An iceberg in Iceberg AlleyA Hundred Photos during a Flicker of Sunlight
March 27, 2009

This afternoon was full of photo opportunities as the Palmer steamed through a strip of ocean called “iceberg alley” for its multitude of icebergs.
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The ship's radar system shows an image of an iceberg.Sensing through the Fog
March 26, 2009

As we travel across the Weddell Sea toward iceberg TK-231, the bridge is monitoring the surrounding area for other, smaller icebergs we may pass by.
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Third mate Brandon Bell holds the ship steady for hours during an ROV deployment.The Bridge’s Role in Deployments
March 25, 2009

Captain Mike Watson and the mates of the Palmer have been integral to the science being conducted on this cruise.
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Cook Alejandra Monje Miranda prepares dinner for all 70 people on the Palmer.Food Preparation
March 24, 2009

A galley crew of three—Alejandra Monje Miranda, Antonio Ford, and Lorenzo Sandoval—is responsible for preparing five hot meals a day for 70 people. Meals must accommodate many different eating styles, including vegetarian and regional eating preferences.
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In the galley, railings surround the stove to prevent sliding pots from falling to the floor in rough weather. Ready for Any Weather
March 23, 2009

A large storm is building west of the Drake Passage and may soon intercept our course. We are finishing up the last bit of surface mapping on iceberg C-18A tonight and will set out early tomorrow morning for the next iceberg in the center of the Weddell Sea.
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Shelves are stocked once before departing from port and must sustain 70 people for the whole 40-day cruise.Food Storage
March 22, 2009

Going grocery shopping is a weekly activity on land. At sea, grocery shopping happens one time: before departing from port. Chefs Alejandra Monje Miranda and Antonio Ford stock the Palmer’s galley while in Punta Arenas.
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Most people carry bottles filled with water in order to stay hydrated in the dry, heated air.Staying Hydrated
March 21, 2009

During one of the first safety meetings, Stian Alesandrini, our Marine Projects Coordinator and a trained EMT, warned that the most common health problem on Antarctic cruises is dehydration.
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A team of sorters process samples from the MOCNESS.A Day of Sorting
March 20, 2009

A day of processing MOCNESS trawl samples is a full day indeed. Ron Kaufmann’s team, which includes Dani Garcia, Mike Fox, Larry Lovell, Rob Sherlock, and Stephanie Bush, has a long day of work when MOCNESS samples are collected.
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Float coats keep science teams dry as they deploy and recover equipment.Deck Work
March 19, 2009

For humans, the Southern Ocean is an inhospitable place: the water temperature is at or below freezing (between -1.6 and 0 degrees C is common), air temperature and wind chill can cause hypothermia, and large waves and swell are common.
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Scheduling Sleep into a 24-Hour Workday
March 18, 2009

The return to iceberg C-18a marks the end of testing and the beginning of sampling. Some teams have been studying the iceberg using CTD casts and laser scanning while others have been collecting water and trawl samples.
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Sounds of a Moving Ship
March 17, 2009

The walls of the Palmer are insulated against the cold, but a variety of sounds pervade. The constant low rumble of the ship’s engines slowly transitions from a distinct sound to background noise as our ears adjust.
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Ocean Workouts
March 16, 2009

Staying in shape is an important consideration for a 40-day cruise. Forty days is enough time to take major steps back in a training regimen or in fitness.
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Rations for each person on the ship includes two water packets (left) for a total of 3 liters of water and one package of emergency food ration (right). Disaster Preparedness at Sea
March 15, 2009

Yesterday’s post introduced the lifeboats on the ship. Today’s post further describes the lifesaving features of the lifeboats and some of the resources available if one must abandon ship.
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One of two closed-top lifeboats on the Nathaniel B. Palmer. Each lifeboat can hold the complete capacity of the ship (70 people). Safety Saturday
March 14, 2009

Once a week, the crew of the Palmer meets to discuss a topic in safety and scientists and staff are welcomed to attend.
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Maria Vernet gets a cup of coffee at "Cafe Vernet" on the ship. Self-Contained World on a Ship
March 13, 2009

When a car breaks down, we bring it to a mechanic to fix the problem. The mechanic diagnoses the problem, acquires the parts necessary to fix it, then does the work for us and delivers a fully-functional car in the end. When something breaks on a ship, it is not as easy to bring it somewhere to get fixed.
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Alana Sherman checks her e-mails. Staying Connected
March 12, 2009

Being out at sea makes it difficult to stay up-to-date on what is happening in the world and our lives, but the IT group on the ship works hard to help keep us connected.
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Getting Away From It All
March 11, 2009

In our everyday lives, we are inundated with technological widgets that connect us to the rest of the world. Newspapers, journal articles, television, email, and of course, the internet, provide us with constant sources of information about what is going on in the world around us.
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The team prepares to launch the ROV IceCUBE.Extreme Cold Weather Gear
March 10, 2009

Before the cruise began, everyone was issued a set of extreme cold weather gear (ECW). For those who had not been to Antarctica before, it was difficult to look through the standard gear allotment and judge whether it would be enough to stay warm.
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Jake Ellena with a cocoanut out in the Antarctic.

Summertime in the Southern Hemisphere
March 9, 2009

Seasons in the southern hemisphere are opposite from those in the northern hemisphere due to the tilt of the earth. The first ICEBERG cruise occurred in December 2005, equivalent to the austral (southern hemisphere) spring.
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This photo shows Stephanie Bush, a research technician for Bruce Robison, rubbing the toe the afternoon before we boarded the ship.A Little Good Luck Our Way
March 8, 2009

Certain traditions and customs are common in maritime culture. Tradition states that sea-going travelers departing from the port of Punta Arenas, Chile, must rub the toe of one of the statues in the town square.
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Large instruments are strapped tightly to the ship so they do not shift.Rocking Around a Rocking Ship
March 7, 2009

Delicate instruments and glass jars of chemicals were not designed with stability in mind, but stability is important while on a rolling ship at sea. The first day of the cruise has been calm; we are passing south along the southern end of Argentina, and the land provides protection from waves and wind that cause the ship to roll.
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UAV testingThe P’s and Q’s of Going to Antarctica
March 6, 2009

Designing a research expedition in the Southern Ocean involves years of preparation prior to the cruise. Each of the researchers involved have been planning what equipment to ship down to Antarctica for months.
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IceburgExpedition Homepage
Find out why our scientists and equipment are in the Antarctic.

Unmanned Aerial VehicleDaily Expedition Logs
Find out what the scientists are doing daily 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