Latitude: 16° 24.73' N Longitude: 110° 25.05' W
Life at sea is full of surprises! As we move further south, I have been lucky enough to see sea turtles, flying fish, and even a few sea birds during our transit. The vastness of the Pacific gives me valuable perspective on the expansive habitat of Earth’s many marine organisms. The blue sky and rolling wake of the boat stretch for miles above deep stretches of Pacific open ocean. Few scientists have the opportunity to visit Antarctic waters, and even fewer have the fortune to accompany the vessel from the states all the way to Antarctica. However, our fortune breeds some boredom and now blazing heat as we have just crossed the equator yesterday!
To escape the heat and stay productive, the Kocot lab has been training to use the macro-photography station that we procured for this trip. As our organisms of interest are often measured in micrometers or millimeters rather than centimeters or meters, obtaining high quality images can be difficult. Thus, we utilize high powered microscopes and specialized camera equipment. However, without specimens to test our skills as amateur macro-photographers we have gotten creative. A leftover piece of baby corn from the galley, or a dead beetle from the bow gives us ample subject matter to tinker with our setup.
Now, thanks to ET (electronics technician) Alex Brett, we won’t have to start careers in vegetable photography! Alex cleans the filters of the boat’s oceanographic equipment every other day. These pre-filters trap planktonic animals that would otherwise interfere with the precise oceanographic measurements such as turbidity and are normally disposed of. To us in the Kocot lab they are the perfect subjects for practicing our photography skills! These small animals are just a slice of the diversity that passes under the NBP every day. I have no doubt the Antarctic animals will be even more charismatic!
University of Alabama