Happy Hump Day! (Now with Photos!)

Apparently, when I published this blog from the ship,  none of the photos made it!  For Shame!  So here it comes again.

We have a cruise tradition of celebrating the halfway point of the cruise.  We call that day “Hump Day” and Tony,  chief of morale,  plans fun activities.  As luck would have it,  we had a 6 hour transit that night  as we switched survey lines.   That gave us 6 hours to party!  Whoop Whoop!

When we got hired onto the cruise, Tony told us that we would have a silly hat/ wig party on hump day.  Night shift  brought their A-game.  Angela was feeling “crabby”,  Tony was rocking out Axel Rose style,  R2D2  (that would be the second Ryan D),  was a proper penguin, Kim D was feeling monstrous,  Shaun had chicken and beer on his mind, Kim B was a prim little which, and I was an enormous rainbow squid.  Keep in mind, we all brought these hats with us to Antarctica.  They got some precious real estate in our luggage.


There was fun.  There was music.  There was a very serious blind gummy bear taste test.  I sadly do not have pictures of this because I ran it.  Tony and I each brought 10 pounds of Haribo Gold gummy bears to share on the cruise.  They were a HUGE hit.   We have been trying to ration them  so that they don’t disappear too fast.  The day before hump day our ration for the week ran out.  The new week started on hump day and the bears came back! To celebrate, we did the 7 bear taste test challenge.  We each had 7 bears, one of each of the five colors  and two random bears.   We did not know which 7 bears we had.   One by one we tasted the bears and guessed the flavor.   Tony was the reigning champ with 4 correct guesses.  I only got two.  That test was hard!

After gummy bears R2 taught us how to make origami krill.


We got very excited about  origami krill.  See that blue bowl? That is where the gummy bears live.  It is a sad sad day when it is empty.



We got so excited, we made a krill cavalry complete with mounted gummy bear warriors.


We might have been singing along to the gummy bear theme song while we built our army.  Of course after we made our army, we had “krill” in the lab. We were then obliged  to do what we do best.


Gah!  We are such zooplankton nerds!  Even when we have a party,  we bring krill along for the fun.

After all that excitement,  we played animal charades until  it was time to set the net.  You try miming a string ray and see how that goes for you.  It was a great ,  and super nerdy party!  Now back to work for me!

So Long and Thanks for All the Krill

Well the time as finally  come.  The 2016 Winter AMLR Cruise  and the whole winter AMLR program is over.

We have spent the last month  sexing and staging krill

And flipping through dichotomous keys  trying to identify critters we rarely  see.

We scienced the heck out of this cruise!

And we had heaps and heaps of fun!

But the time has come to pack away the microscopes.  We are exhausted after completing more than 100 tows.

The metaphorical sun is setting on our time in Antarctica


Until we meet  again.  May the weather be always in your favor.

Things on ice

We made it back to the Bransfield  and there was ice.  Actually there was a rather  impressive amount of ice for only two week’s growth.  Some pieces of ice were big enough to support seals and penguins.  But compared to my last two years on this cruise, the ice was sparse and weenie.   There was plenty of room for the ship to avoid the large pieces of ice that held seals and penguins.  So, my wildlife spotting this year was from rather large distance.  Ah well, them’s the way the bergy bits crumble.

Crabeater seals are the most abundant seal in this area,  but they are ice dependent  creatures.   They need good solid ice to haul out and rest on.   They also forage (look for food) better in icy conditions.  Fur seals on the, other hand,  are perfectly happy to rest on shore and forage in open water.   Given  how weenie the ice has been in the Bransfield Strait this year,  it is no surprise that I saw more fur seals and fewer crabeater seals than in years past.

Adelie penguins  remain in Antarctic waters year round, so we often see them swimming in the water and resting on ice.   Like the seals,  most of the Adelie’s I saw were from a distance,  but it was still nice to see them.


Pretty much all of my  penguin pictures look like this.   Penguins from a distance running away from the big orange ship. Ah well,  at least I got to see them and know they were there.

I am going to end this post with a snow petrel,  a bird that soars and forages in ice covered water…and also  a plea to my photographer husband that I really do need a bigger lens….