UAB Scientists Visit Antarctica

The following entry is the first installment of several reports that Birmingham Audubon officer and board member Maggie Amsler sent to us during her most recent research trip to Palmer Station, Antarctica. Charles D. Amsler, Ph.D., and Margaret O. Amsler, M.S. are veteran Antarctic researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). For more about their work in the Antarctic, visit https://www.uab.edu/newsarchive/37618-antarctic-island-named-for-uab-researchers-charles-d-amsler-and-margaret-o-amsler and http://www.uab.edu/antarctica/blog/maggie/148-palmer-station-the-nickel-tour-at-no-charge.

February 22, 2016

Ahoy All!.

A quick note to let you know the ASRV Laurence M. Gould is untethered from the Punta Arenas dock and we are under way for Antarctica!!

Local law requires a Chilean pilot be on the bridge while sailing through Chilean waters. About eight hours into our 9 am departure, we reached the country’s watery border and no longer needed the pilot. He was picked up by the small vessel pictured here:

ASRV Laurence M. Gould. Photo by Maggie Amsler. Feb. 2016. Chile.

ASRV Laurence M. Gould. Photo by Maggie Amsler. Feb. 2016. Chile.

If you look closely at the ship’s bow (pointy forward end 😉 ) you will see a black and white image in the spray:

Commerson Dolphins escort the departing ship. Chile. Feb. 2016 by Maggie Amsler.

Commerson Dolphins escort the departing ship. Chile. Feb. 2016 by Maggie Amsler.

Even our escort vessel has an escort – Commerson dolphins. As the smaller craft matched speed with that of the slowing LMG to come alongside, it was evident that there were several ‘Flippers’ leading the way. Looks like a fun, but dangerous way to surf!

ASRV Laurence M. Gould. Photo by Maggie Amsler. Feb. 2016. Chile.

ASRV Laurence M. Gould. Photo by Maggie Amsler. Feb. 2016. Chile.

Once the two vessels sidled up together and were snug, our Chilean two-legged escort simply stepped off the LMG and onto his ride back to Chile. Easy though some years the seas have been akin to a roller coaster for this process. Waves – of good-bye – were exchanged and now the LMG’s Captain (Ernest) and mates (Mike, Luke and James) have full control of the ship.

Sometime this Monday afternoon we will sail south of Cabo de Hornos, Cape Horn, make a right turn and head south – into the Drake Passage. Weather reports suggest we may encounter relatively “lively” seas. I’ll let you know soon but you can get an idea by checking the ship’s location, speed, sea state, etc. listed on the ship tracker site described in the 1st edition.

Looking beyond the Drake, we expect to be off Anvers Island, Antarctica on 24 Feb. We have three very important stops to make offshore before docking at Palmer Station. On my last expedition (Feb-Mar 2015), another deep-sea crab imaging cruise, three sets of temperature loggers were anchored to the seafloor to record daily water temperatures throughout the year. For a little background on this check out the expedition’s website:

http://poletopolescience.blogspot.com/

In particular, see Wednesday 25 Feb 15 post for image of data logger float array being deployed from the LMG.

Look out Drake – here we come!

Cheers,

Maggie Amsler
Department of Biology
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Birmingham, AL 35294