Aurora and Better Samples

Today started out well.  After a mad dash run in the lab to see the effectiveness of some antibiotics on the bacteria in the Antarctic we went to our local dive site to search for more high density worm beds. 

We found a good set of worm tubes and began to core (see core sample image from Sep 5 below).  They are not the best cores (a little shallow on the sediment side due to the brick wall of volcanic rubble that sits underneath the mud at this site).  Another slightly more amusing challenge was that apparently I have one core that is slightly too small for the caps, and while I knew that this core tube existed I didn’t tell Rory and accidentally took it diving. He spent a good few minutes on the bottom trying to put a cap on a core that was too small.  When I saw what was happening I realized he must have smaller core tube and pulled the core out of the sediment and handed him a new core tube.  He was so confused… not that you can tell through a mask.

After the dive we worked in the lab trying to make more progress on the lab set up, and the day disappeared with odds and ends and errands.  Some of these task were science related such as, building a core resperometer (so we can see how much the sediment “breathes”) and others were safety related like, loading up our vehicle with our survival gear bags meaning that if a storm comes in we can be quite ‘comfy’ in nothing more than our vehicle for up to three days.  I also started to look at some of the animals under the scope.  It always amazes me how things that I have looked at for years preserved look totally different in real life.

The day ended in a first for me – we saw Aurora Australis, or the southern lights.  After sitting in the -43°F wind chill air for around an hour taking photos my camera decided to call it quits and froze, we called it a day too. Electronics do not “like” the extreme cold, LCD screens freeze, batteries have a fraction of their original life, etc. which is just one of the many challenges for science in this harsh continent of Antarctica. We gladly endure these challenges for good scientific results and the added perks of new experiences, such as the Aurora Australis, always help.

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