The wildlife highlight of the last days was the sighting of my first penguin (see picture).
I had seen penguins before, sitting on icebergs in the distance, but with cheap cameras (like mine) these penguins only show up as black dots on a white berg. This penguin however was different. He was swimming very close by the ship, and thanks to an announcement of the captain, everybody who was awake got a chance to run outside and see it. The little guy was swimming up and down the side the ship, giving us a proper show – very cute!
Scientifically we are making great progress.
Part TWO of the weekly updates from the JOIDES Resolution, drilling off Antarctica to explore Antarctic climate history.
This week the video by Dan Brinkhuis features a portray of Dr. Jörg Pross, a micropaleontologist of the Frankfurt University.
The first hole we tried to drill off Antarctica did not like us too much and we had to abandon it. After collecting the pipes going down from the ship to about 3700m water depths, we moved to another Site not too far away, but in a different depositional environment. We tripped the pipes again (to about 3900m; see video for one piece of pipe going down), and got our first core on deck at 2 am tonight. It seems that conditions at this new location are much more favorable for successful drilling, and we are making fast progress down the hole!
When I got up yesterday morning the labs were emptied out – everybody seemed to be outside. Soon I learned that we were passing by some quite spectacular icebergs. In the photo you can see just one of those bergs. According to our ice specialist Diego Mello we saw bergs of every possible shape, and the excitement hold up for most of the day. If you check out other blogs on the expedition (www.joidesresolution.org) you will see more bergs. The sea has been very calm over the last few days, but the fog prevented more spectacular pictures. Unfortunately the massive presence of icebergs around our first targeted drill site (‘bergy water’ is the term Diego uses) forced the captain to make the decision that drilling on the shelf was not feasible at this point.
One of the participants in our endeavor to explore the climate history of Antarctica is the videographer Dan Brinkhuis (Zcene Moving Media Company). He has probably been one of the most busy people during our first week of transit, as he is constantly running around with his camera trying to capture all the different activities on the ship.
Today his first weekly report from the JOIDES Resolution came out featuring a portray of IODP expedition project manager Adam Klaus. Dan will produce reports like this for every week of our expedition, featuring different people on the ship and their roles in this expedition.
This morning at 9:20 am we past 60°S. We have been making very good progress on our transit and detailed planning for the first drill site on the shelf has began. We hope to arrive at site on Monday. This morning at 4 am the first iceberg was sighted. Unfortunately I was asleep, but there will be more to come…
By now everybody on the ship is eager to get started – a week of transit is a long time although we have been busy setting up the labs, working out our sampling strategies, and attending science talks. It is quite fascinating to see how diverse the background of all the scientists is.
After we left the ‘roaring fourties’ behind, we are currently making slow progress in the ‘screaming fifties’ to avoid the worst of a low pressure system to the south of us. Although the video looks quite nice, the waves are actually very high and the boat rolls around significantly (up to 60 knots winds and swells of 20 ft).
We are now three days into our transit down to Antarctica. The highlight of the second day was the obligatory boat drill. After we had a briefing from the captain on the first day, we used this drill to identify the location of our life boats and escape routes. We all had to come equipped with our life vests and hard heads, and had to then try on our survival suites. These gumby suites are water proof and float in water – they may safe our lives for a considerable amount of time if we ever have to abandon the ship.
Today at 10:30am we left port. All scientist and many of the technicians and the ship’s crew were on top of the bridge to watch the departure. It was a sunny day, and two little boats towed us until we were far enough away from land that the ship could be turned to face the open sea.
We left Aotea Quay,Wellington, under blue sky. For the next couple of days we will be sailing along the eastside of New Zealand. Since weather and ice observations will be key to our expedition (some of the sites we want to drill are still covered by seaice), we have two experts on board, Kjell and Diego, who watch out for weather and ice conditions at any time and inform the ship’s crew and the scientists.