Latitude: 19° 17.60' N Longitude: 111° 45.92' W
The reality that I’m living on a boat and undergoing a literal voyage across three quarters of the globe to do research sampling in Antarctica during a pandemic has hit me numerous times a day for the last 3-ish weeks. Never in my wildest dreams had I expected to be invited on a research cruise to Antarctica. In fact, when I was approached over e-mail about it a few months ago, my response may have been, “WHAT.”
You see, prior to this cruise, I had never even slept on a boat!
I had no expectations for what life aboard the Nathaniel B. Palmer would be, especially for the stretches of time during quarantine and transit. Talking with the PIs, my science crew teammates, and the ASC (Antarctic Support Contract) crew has prepared me for things like what it will be like when the ship is breaking ice, how sampling will be conducted, and what it might be like going through the Drake passage.
Fascinating to me are all the various habits we’ve all had to pick up. For instance, keeping doors closed/properly latched, storing all personal items in cabinets, thinking about how spilled liquids must be contained, and locking the watertight doors (that lead outside) behind you. Other aspects of life aboard the vessel are equally interesting. Going out on the bow to observe flying fish or see the Milky Way is a great way to break up or end the day. Being many miles offshore with only the ship lights, we are able to see the Milky Way, constellations, and stars that make up the night sky, usually hidden due to city light pollution.
As for sampling once we make it to Antarctica, my specialty is on phylum Bryozoa (AKA moss animals), a group of mostly marine filter-feeding, colonial animals. Most of my fieldwork experience is in habitats close to shore, such as floating docks and tide pools. I’ve identified bryozoan species for a few projects in a few various parts of the world and I’m so excited to add Antarctica to that list!
Collections Manager, Non-molluscan Invertebrates
North Carolina Museum of Natural History