We arrived at Palmer Station… An especially long awaited arrival for me.
Early this morning as the ship slowed we emerged on to deck to watch the dawn creep over the Antarctic Peninsula. The glaciers and mountains loomed over the Gould. It was truly breathtaking.
This arrival has been especially long coming for me. When I was a kid I was hooked on Antarctic research and expeditions. I read every book I could find on the topic, communicated with researchers and used to have my parents drive me to academic lectures on Antarctic research. In the late ’60s I met L.M. Gould, the namesake of our research ship and I signed up to go on an expedition on the NSF research vessel Hero. The Hero was doing marine mammal acoustics studies in the region (sound familiar?). I tried to use the premise that Admiral Byrd took a Boy Scout along on his expedition. Unfortunately I was turned down (my first NSF rejection letter), but the scientist stayed in touch with me and sent me cruise reports, papers and patches from the cruise.
I even went as far as building a scale model of Palmer Station and the vicinity for my 6th grade science fair project (see attached photo). So after 41 years I have finally been able to arrive on the trip I planned at age 11. So this really has been a long time in the works for me.
Our team will be spending the night at Palmer and then splitting into two groups. The marine mammal observer team (Dave, Andy, Reny, Lindsey, and Eletta) will be departing on the Gould to begin observing while the ice fish team begins their first fishing venture. Meng and the krill team will also remain on the Gould and begin their studies.
The whale tagging, prey-mapping and visualization team (Ari, Elliott, Pat, Doug, Allison, Colin and Roland) will be staying at Palmer to set up the small boats and test the tags and acoustic backscatter mapping equipment.
We have arrived. So now the real work begins.