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Monday, 16 February 2009 02:00
Published in News And Announcements
Sunday, 27 January 2008 18:03
Saturday 26th January 2008 Just look at the latitude! We will be back in Australian waters tonight and arriving at the Hobart wharf early tomorrow morning. Everyone’s focus is on home now and those who can have been losing themselves in movies or sleep, willing the hours to pass. Emails from managers are flying around the ship thick and fast. Quarantine paperwork is being finalized, the labs are packed up and cleaned, project reports are being written. The day is mapped out for us. We have our Australia day morning tea at 1000. After lunch our last shipboard seminar will be a screening of a DVD of Jeff Hoffman’s work on the Sorcerer 2 yacht voyage with Craig Venter. (Jeff’s pitch is the great travel footage, but I know there’s also fanta...
Saturday, 26 January 2008 17:40
Friday 25th January 2008 John, Kim, Ashley and Lyn are at the front line when it comes to safety at sea. They have ensured that we all added an extra layer of fat to keep us safe in the event that we found ourselves exposed to the extreme Antarctic elements for any length of time. We were warned at the outset that the first precaution before heading outside is to have a hot meal, the second being to dress appropriately for the cold. I have been meticulous in following this advice and feel confident that if I was stranded outside for any length of time I’d do nearly as well as an elephant seal....
Friday, 25 January 2008 21:37
Thursday 24th January While some on the ship have got what John in the galley called 'the channels' and slipped into a kind of lethargy and listlessness associated with nearing home, the oceanography lab is pumping. Some background first: Three quarters of the Earth's surface is water but it's this vast frontier of ocean that we are only just starting to discover. The future, it seems, is microbiology. As recently as 2004 a report in Science astounded the scientific community. It described the microbial diversity in water samples taken in the Sargasso Sea by the Venter Institute. This sea was selected specifically because of its low nutrient levels but remarkably, of the 1.045 billion base pairs sequenced from the water sample...
Friday, 25 January 2008 21:27
Wednesday 23rd January 2008 We are crossing the mid-ocean South-east Indian Ridge. An email from Rob bobbed up yesterday inviting me to check out his maps which show how the great plates dividing the planet affect the ocean floor. At around -54 South and 143 East you can see the suture line that separates the great Australia plate from the Antarctic plate. I can see on the echo sounder where we have been traveling. It's a very flat and deep area to around 5000m. This is Old Earth. Suddenly bumpy hills several hundred metres high start to appear. The ground continues to be rough and then the clear line of the axis shows where the earth has literally torn apart. This is where we cross into New Earth, a landscape of undersea volcanoes, basalt and larva, which ha...
Tuesday, 22 January 2008 10:37
Todays' Sitrep proclaims success. 'CEAMARC sampling officially finished at 8 minutes past midnight. Overall, 82 different sites were occupied during CEAMARC, with samples collected from at least 78 sites; well in excess of the 67 sites we had hoped for.' We are one of three ships working in this part of Antarctica collecting marine life for the Collaborative East Antarctic Marine Census (CEAMARC). Our focus is on the benthic organisms below 200 metres. We have been looking at biodiversity in a region never before investigated so comprehensively and can now offer another jigsaw piece of information to complete the larger Census of Antarctic Marine Life (CAML) picture. Our grand tally is 106 trawls and 114 grab or box-corer deployments. The CEA...
Monday, 21 January 2008 12:22
Because everything is going so well and we are on target with our sampling, a window of opportunity has opened. We are going to have lunch beside the giant iceberg while the crew in the Fast Rescue Craft (FRC) takes a small party to collect some special water samples. When they return we will have a group photo on the helideck. Looks good on paper. The berg has a name and a history. B-17A calved from the Ross Ice Shelf in April 2000 and appears to have become grounded here in 2006. It's 35 km long. Toby measured its height using the sextant and found it was 43 metres high. From the chair in my cabin the iceberg makes up a strip across the middle third of my porthole. Testing the waters around B-17A is Tank's extra project. He wants to find out if icebergs ar...
Sunday, 20 January 2008 12:14
The oceanography lab next to the CTD room is a maze of plumbing linking test tubes, flasks, computer screens and electronic devices. It's heart, which never stop beating, is the 'debubbleometer', which provides the lifeblood to many of the research projects underway on the voyage. Surface seawater drawn from beneath the ship is continuously measured by a range of instruments: a salinometer (measuring salt), a fluorometer (measuring fluorescence) a temperature probe and a CO2 monitor. There's a great deal of interest in CO2. People are taking samples to learn more about the relationship between CO2 found in the air and the ocean, which makes the debubbleometer (or air separator) a vital piece of equipment. It's crucial that only the CO2 in the water is measured an...
Saturday, 19 January 2008 08:23
Anti whaling activities in the Southern Ocean headlined this morning's daily onboard newspaper "Australia Today". The paper comprises four A4 pages printed from News on Board services via TEAMtalk Satellite. Anything from our part of the world, the Southern Ocean, generates animated conversation. Two Sea Shepherd Conservation Society members from the ship the 'Steve Irwin' boarded the Japanese ship the Yushin Maru No 2 to deliver a letter to the captain advising him that he was illegally killing whales in the Southern Whale Sanctuary. They were promptly taken into custody on the ship, where they remain. Notions of law at sea were bandied about at lunch along with the practicalities of regulation, prosecution, anarchy and foolhardiness. Opinion was divided....
Sunday, 13 January 2008 08:11
We are amongst some very dramatic icebergs at various stages of decay. There are lots of crazy triangular tilts, some long tabulars, many with massive glowing caves, decaying fringes and yawning cracks. Sharing the stage is the backdrop of the Antarctic continent. We steam parallel to it all day and because it might be my last glimpse I'm up and down to the bridge for regular good long looks. The ship is a fascinating combination of complex and traditional technologies. Take the 'French beam trawl' which is doing so much of the benthic work. In the end it's just a four and a bit metre long lump of wood with a 35 centimetre frame to keep the mouth of a ten metre long prawn net open to the catch. Sounds simple, but it's a workhorse that needs...
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