Category Archives: Sampling

A good catch … FINALLY!!!

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3rd of September 2013, King Edward Point:

What a day!!! It’s two in the morning and I am exhausted, but what a day… First thing this morning at 9am was to go out and collect those lines with traps I deployed yesterday. The pull up went incredibly smoothly this time, adding polystyrene to the traps definitely made things easier. However, to my disappointment, there were no fish larvae in any of the traps…. There were a few shrimp in the ones at 60m and 40m, and a few pelagic crustaceans in some other traps, but no fish larvae in any of them.

Then after coffee break, by which time everyone on base knew I had finally caught the larvae, I got together with Dan, Joe and Erny to discuss setting up the aquarium. After a while we finally agreed on a procedure. So off we went, Joe to sort out the temperature of the room, Erny and Dan to connect the pipe and bring sea water to the aquarium and me to figure out all the connections, taps and filtering steps in the aquarium. A few head scratches and a good thorough wash later, the aquarium was ready to be filled up.

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I was having sooooo much fun with the whole thing. The water finally started pumping up at the aquarium by lunch time, after which I started playing with all the pumps, and sumps and starting all the filters and filling all the tanks… Soooooooo much fun!!! But the water was bloody freezing!! Finally by 5pm all the tanks were full so we could stop the filling pump. Some of the pumps in the protein skimmer didn’t seems to be working, I tried starting them several times, blowing air down the airpipes, tapping them… noup… still not working, so I opened the pumps, and found that the propellers were covered in this sticky greasy stuff. It was disgusting… so after I checked with the techies that there was no particular reason why such mess should be in the propellers I proceeded to clean them up. Apparently someone had “greased” the propellers with silicone grease!!!! No wonder there was oily stuff floating around in one of the tanks. After a good deep scrub and wash, the pumps were up and running again.

And after all the excitement of setting up the aquarium, I then had to set up the lights out off the pier to attract those larvae. And sure enough after dinner, there they were, swimming around. I have been there lying horizontal on the snow, with an aquarium dip-net on my hand, picking fish larvae from 9 till 12:30… It’s been quite a lot of fun, though my hands froze off a couple of time, which wasn’t that much fun. Catching stuff like this reminds me of when I was a kid, and I use to spend my summers catching tadpoles with my cousins at my grandma’s pond. It was soooo much fun. I’ll never forget looking at those little black blobs with eyes, which sometimes had little feet and tiny arms poking out… Back then it was hard to believe that one day those black blobs would become those noisy frogs and toads that fill up summer nights. Today, what I find mindboggling is that now that I am an adult I am doing the same things than when I was a child: dip-netting and setting up tanks… only now it’s my job!

After three and a half hours in freezing cold, I’ve got about 25 larvae now in the aquarium. Let’s see if they are alive tomorrow morning!!!

2nd of September 2013, King Edward Point:

I’ve caught them!!!! I’ve caught them!!! I have flipping caught them!!!! This is amazing!! I’ve caught fish larvae!!!! Unbelievable!! I caught them, and they are beautiful! Way more than I thought they’d be…. This is amazing….

But perhaps I should start at the beginning… This morning the Pharos was about to sail off to go do the fish larvae trawling exercise that they do every month to assess the fish larvae density. They do so with plankton nets that they deploy down to about 100m of depth and by the time the larvae are up on deck, they are rather squished and no use for me. As the Pharos was going out there, I thought that perhaps I could give it a shot at deploying traps off the Pharos, just to see if I could catch something. After discussions with the Government Officers, I realised that there was pretty much no point in me going aboard, as the ship would not be stopping anywhere deep enough for any length of time. So I gave up on the idea… And then, to make things worse, I was informed that I had my departure date in late September…. I already knew that that was when I was supposed to leave, but seeing the date so close kind off freaked me out. And then a huge feeling of failure started getting hold of me. I had tried…. I had tried and failed… miserably… I got even gloomier than I had been for the last week. I tried to shake it all off by planning some further offshore “deep” traps. I modified them once again, adding more flotation to each trap (Suggestion by GO Jo!)  to make lifting the whole line a little bit easier. So I added more weight to the base of each trap to make sure they sank properly, and added a whole lot of polystyrene to the top. Then after I had them nearly ready I was told that the boating trip I was planning to take advantage off was cancelled…. Hummmpffff….. So I did what I needed to do… Call home base (AKA boss) for confirmation that it was okay to get some more boating hours and some much needed moral support. It’s funny but after that call I felt completely renewed…. And I was ready for more … Be it success or failure. So I booked the boat for myself to go out and deploy anyway, regardless of other people or weather, I was gonna “poner toda la carne en el asador“. Two lines with four jellyfish traps of 60m and 40m of depth. This time, deployments were as smooth as silk and we were done in less than 40 minutes. I had originally thought of putting out the four bubble traps out off the pier while Pharos was out, but then, decided to give the spotlight a try… It was a wild card, there were reports of larvae being caught by hand of the jetty back in the 90’s, though everyone so far had laughed at the idea. And I had been told so many times that it was so difficult to catch them, that I had not given this method serious thought. GRAVE MISTAKE!!! VERY VERY GRAVE MISTAKE!!! So I found a floodlight, and at dusk I placed it just off the pier and then went for dinner, after an hour I dragged myself to the pier ready to retrieve the lamp and face defeat once again. Surely enough the sea was heaving with critters moving around, the usual suspects: amphipods, polychaetes, isopods, the odd shrimp…. Sigh….. The same as always….. But then something crossed that didn’t move like an amphipod, or a polychaete, or a shrimp… No, this thing was definitely swaying a tail side to side… Nah… Could it? Nah…. Impossible, and then another one…. Wait a second, I need to check this. I ran as quickly as I could in the two foot deep snow to fetch an improvised long-handle soft mesh hand net and fished out that wiggling thing. Off into a bucket. And there it was! My first fish larvae!!! This time there was no doubt about it. I had caught a fish larvae!!! 30 minutes later I had dozen of them of at least three different species!!! One of them had the most beautiful dragon fins! Stunning creatures!!!

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Now I had a problem… What do I do with these?? Off I went running again to the main house, and Dan very kindly offered to help. First I showed him my capture, which he confirmed, reassuring me that I wasn’t inventing stuff, or I was starting to lose the plot. Then we went off on a frantic search for somewhere to overnight the larvae until I had the aquarium ready. I must admit I was rather unprepared for this. Needed somewhere at 0oC. The aquarium room was too warm without the chillers on, outside was too cold… Hummmm… Joe and Ernie were quick thinkers and suggested either the food store (1oC was close enough), or making a mesh bucket and floating it till tomorrow. 20 minutes later we had our bucket, but sadly when we came back, the surface of my original bucket with fish larvae had started to freeze and half my larvae were already belly up…. The wind had picked up and the water in the bucket was now -4oC…. A first Antarctic fish husbandry lesson has been learned, as you’re catching the larvae, the water needs to be kept warm enough. Or the larvae need to be transferred straight away to the aquarium. I have already thought of several ways to solve the problem (floating buckets and polystyrene boxes will come handy).

I am a bit disappointed with myself for not having done this before… I should have done it earlier regardless of opinions… but, hey, I found a way to catch the larvae.

It’s now 1am, and tomorrow I have to start the aquarium. I was tired before I went down to the pier, but now I am buzzing with excitement about the prospect of starting the aquarium. I am curious to see it there is anything in my deep water traps. And I can’t wait to set up the lights again tomorrow eve. Perhaps my luck just changed…. 🙂

22th of August 2013, Kind Edward Point:

I am starting to lose hope here. Its past mid-august and the larvae should be out there by now, hence this week I thought I would put my all onto sampling and pull out my last resort: go deep.

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Icefish larvae are caught in trawling exercises at depths of around 100m, so I decided it was time to try sampling deep. It was going to require boating time which is expensive, that is why I waited until now to go out there. So off we went Ella, Pat and I, to deploy a line of 70m with 8 traps along the line each baited with a glow light stick.

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It was quite a weird moment when everyone on board looked at me and asked me: “So, where do we go?” – Huh? Blink, blink – I had never been in such position where I was in charge of where a scientific boat goes, and it took me a few second to react and understand that I was in charge. Mind boggling in certain ways, but it also reminded me that I am not a child anymore…. Anyway, we agreed on what seemed a suitable location.

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It was quite a feat to deploy the traps, but nothing compared to hauling them the next day!! Wow, 70m of wet line, plus 8 traps, chain and anchor ARE heavy when you have to haul them by hand! That was hard work!

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However, it was more the emotional blow that hit me, when we got back to shore and I found that the traps were mostly empty.

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There was a lonely pretty shrimp in the deepest trap and a few small crustaceans in the one at 50m. There you go, I had just scored another defeat.

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The shore traps are not fearing much better either. I’ve caught a fish egg, oddly enough. Sue is trying to convince that is a good sign… bless!!! but I remain skeptical…

I’ve had problems with the traps getting stuck in the ice as the surface freezes. Pulley systems getting ripped from the shore by high winds and wave action. Traps being blown onto the shore. Chains frozen into ice. Lights that have failed. I’ve leaned on shag pooh, have found that one wash is not enough, and now I’ve got a stinky jumper. Noup… I’m not at my highest morale level.

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Nevertheless, I had a peek onto the hits on the blog, and I was gobsmacked!! Over 600 hits and from all over the world!! THANK YOU ALL FOR FOLLOWING THE BLOG!!! The map looked amazing!!! Although, who do I know from Nepal???

Last weekend, three of the girls went on holiday to Maiviken. They left on Friday and came back on Monday, which meant that we were only four of us left on base. I thought it was going to be boring, because half the group had left, but quite the opposite. It was a bit like when the parents leave you home alone!! So we were up to a lot of mischief over in base camp: There were lots of spooking each other around, music up loud, laughs at the bar, and we invaded the luxurious Shakelton House with popcorn galore to watch “Alien Vs. Predator”!! It was quite something watching a film about aliens that it’s supposed to be in Antarctica while one IS in Antarctica… (or sort off) and then having to go out there and do the late rounds… hahaha! But we couldn’t stop laughing throughout the film: it all started with a general explosion of laughter when we saw a Magellanic penguin appearing in what was supposed to be the Antarctic Peninsula, and then it just continued on… On reflexion, it’s funny how once you’ve been removed from civilization for a while, one becomes a bit like a kid and you let yourself enjoy those really simple but magical moments…

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On Saturday Rod, Sue and I agreed to go ALL THE WAY to Maiviken to bring some “essential” supplies the girls had already run out of. The sky was covered and it had snowed a lot, so we put on some snow shoes and off we went on a nice hike up to Deadman’s Pass and to Maiviken.

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It was fascinating to see Maiviken Hut being occupied, and it instilled a strong will in me to go out on a holiday before I leave South Georgia if at all possible. On the way back, I committed another mistake: accept Rod’s dare of a race up to Deadman’s Pass IN SNOWSHOES… 

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Hahaha… it must have been hilarious to watch, but maaaannnn that was a workout!!! I was drenched and out of breath by the time we reached the top. Needless to say, I lost…. But only by a few meters!!!

Friday 9th of August, King Edward Point:

FISH!!!!! FISH!!! I caught fish!!!! Okey, it’s not the fish larvae I was after… but fish after all!

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Yesterday, I deployed two of the bubble traps off the jetty and one of the jellyfish traps off the jetty but with a big weight on, so that it was fishing at 10m of depth. The latter caught these two juvenile fish (way too big for my purposes), but it shows that fish are attracted to the lights inside the traps.

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I had baited one of the bubble traps with blue lights and it had attracted far fewer amphipods than the one with white lights, but there was this “thing” in the trap: it was completely transparent and had two tiny eyes. My mind immediately thought of an arrow-worm (Chaetognatha), so I didn’t give it too much importance. Unfortunately an amphipod ate the head of such “thing” before I reached the lab, so I could only look at the body under the microscope. After inspection under the microscope I was no longer so convinced it was an arrow-worm. It had fins all along the body, a caudal fin, and the body seemed to have muscular segments on it. After it died it also turned pure white, much like all the preserved fish larvae I’ve seen so far. Most species, including those I’m targeting, have melanophores (spots) along the body, but there are a few icefish species which have no pigmentation at all. Unfortunately, without the head I cannot tell for sure if it was a fish larvae or some other marine critter. I’ve kept the specimen so we can determine if it was fish or not by DNA analysis. This whole experience has made me realise that so far I have been looking for white or opaque larvae in the traps, as all icefish larvae I have been shown so far have been preserved in ethanol. But what if live icefish larvae were transparent? That makes the whole spotting them in white buckets a bit more complicated. I will be paying much closer attention to my catch from now on.

All in all, I still haven’t caught the target icefish larvae, but the novelty of having caught juvenile fish and something that may potentially perhaps be some sort of icefish larvae, has given me a new spur of hope.

Here a sequence of me deploying traps underneath the watchful eye of some curious shags:

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Bubble traps sometimes need a bit of encouragement to go IN the water, but they do go eventually in the water:

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And here is the new sport at KEP: jellyfish trap throwing!!

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I  I often get espectators while deploying and retrieving traps:

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And this is the usual stuff that I get in them… a soup of amphipods, isopods, copepods, some polychaetes:

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Then one needs to spend quite a bit of time looking at this teeming soup of stuff, trying to identify anything that looks remotely like a fish larvae… rather tedious.

What the …???

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Here I was, happily trying to identify that misterious creature under the microscope, when sudenly, some unusual fauna appeared on the window….

It was the Government Officers, replacing the flag that had been damaged on the last storm.

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Now we have a proper South Georgia Flag in front of base!!!! Oleeeeee!!!!

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Other than that life at KEP is still very much in post-KEPwood mode, all we can talk about is the filming and what the other stations may have filmed. We’ve heard that some other station has used the same filming technique as us… so we’re not happy puppies about that …. And we’ve heard that Bird Island have an amazing film… but there’s only 4 of them there, so they can’t be as good as we are… can they?

I thought I’d give you an idea of what everyday life is like at KEP, other than deploying traps, running away from seals, photographing penguins, skiing and staring in movies.

Each of us is responsible for their own breakfast and lunch, but we have “smoko” (AKA coffee/tea brake in non-exmilitary venues) at 10:30 and dinner at 7 all together, which are welcome social events.

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One person, who rotates among us, is responsible to make the earlies rounds (i.e. checking the whole station at 6am, digging snow from the front of doors, making bread, and aweing at the spectacular sunrises), keeping the communications log, and preparing dinner for everyone. On those days, it’s better not to plan to do anything serious as you’re pretty much in the kitchen all day. I love cooking, so it’s not like I’m precisely suffering those days…. Hahaha!

A visit to our food stores:

The day after one is on earlies, one is on lates, which means doing the rounds to check the whole station again at midnight’ish, closing all doors and turning off all lights, dealing with all the rubbish (ALL sorted into aluminium cans, steel cans, plastic, cardboard…. ), fighting the blizzards when it’s unreasonable weather, and making sure everyone’s in bed. Being a natural night owl, that’s easy peasy lemon squeasy, and I take advantage of that time to write this blog.

Now in winter there’s only 10 of us on base, so we have the luxury of having a bedroom each, which to top it all are ensuite!! “La class”!!! There a series of common rooms: kitchen, dinning room, two screening rooms, one with a projector, a VERY extensive collection of books, DVDs and musical instruments, and the Copper bar… obviously the most important common room of all!! The heart and soul of social life on base.

A Grand tour of our living quarters in SG:

On Friday afternoon it’s scrubbout time, and the whole station is cleaned up, a great way to finish the week. Today I was responsible for the bar, and I realised that whoever thought of having a coppertop bar did not think of cleaning it… that was a workout on its own!! It is now spotless!!!

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Monday 5th of August 2013, King Edward Point:

Three weeks have gone by since I first stepped on South Georgia. I can’t believe it! Time is flying by… Sampling is proving very difficult indeed… Now I get why they say that fieldwork in the Antarctic is hard…

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First it’s the leppies: Last Wednesdays we had the joy of a young leopard seal visit. It was very close to the jetty and darting from one end of the Pharos to the other, playing around the ropes and posing for the 10 or so very excited biologist taking more photos than paparazzis.

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Here’s a little video of collective footage by Joe Corner, Paula O’Sullivan and Rod Strachan:

It was all very exciting for the first… hour and half? It was a bit less fun, when I had to go retrieve/set my traps at the other end of the peninsula before sunset and I was impeded to access the traps because “young leppy” had decided it was great fun to come see what the hell I was doing in the water knee-deep. An express exit was very much required… After a loooong while I was finally able to service the traps. Next surprise came on Friday, when as I was approaching the traps I see this massive head poking out of the kelp, at first I couldn’t figure out what it was and a whole list of potential animals crossed my mind… but after a few more pokes, it was unmistakeable. An adult leopard seal was again lurking around my traps, but this one was no joke. That head looked terrifying, and I am sure it was spying on us on the shore. It kept poking out and swimming and playing with the buoy at the end of my pulley system and checking the traps… there was no way I was going in the water that day. I’ve been told that leopard seals are a rare sight at KEP and it was very excited to see them at first, but this is the 5th time they are around here since I have arrived and it aint fun when you can’t service the traps because there’s something with a huge gaping mouth full of very sharp teeth lurking underwater.

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The other problem I had not thought of are icebergs getting caught on my pulley system, which then encourages all the water around it to freeze over and I end up with ice-locked ropes and traps. Noup… that aint fun either. Given the freezing weather we’ve been having this week (-11oC) traps have had to spend the weekend out there.

And today, when finally the surface had melted and there were no leppies around, the whole pulley system/traps had trapped a whole bunch of kelp that must have been floating around… so this time, knife in hand, Ella and I had to go in there chest-deep and cut all the kelp off the ropes…. About 45 minutes later we managed to retrieve the traps. One was intact, one had the tubes twisted slightly and the other had missed a couple of tubes, but the lights were all still on!! Considering they had been there about 4 days, withstanding the attention of seals, full blast of icebergs and tangled among a bunch of kelp, I was pretty chuffed with the trap engineering. Hahaha! In any case, I have still not caught any fish larvae…. On Friday, my failure to collect my traps was lightened up the announcing of the 5 elements that need to be included for our mini-film for the Antarctic Film Festival! Every year, all Antarctic bases compete in making a 5 minute film including certain elements. The element are announced on Friday and the film must be submitted before the end of Sunday. This year the elements were: a Ping-Pong ball, a sneeze, a gingerbread man, a bathtub, and the phrase “Voulez vous coucher avec moi ce soir”. Grand!!! Thank you french bases!!!! hahahaha!!! After much brainstorming and a few coffees/teas we finally agreed on the theme of the film and started making plans for our master piece. Within an hour we were filming. Cast, filming crew, director, baking pros, special effects specialists… the science station had suddenly turned into a Hollywood studio!! There were fake skies, mini and life size spaceships, diggers throwing snow, an army of gingerbread men … even fireworks!! Friday eve was great fun!

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On Saturday the station was buzzing from very early, the Pharos was leaving to Stanley and with her Paula and Tony waved goodbye to the rest of us.

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It was a sad moment, but to cheer us all up a bit we started inmediately with the filming and my acting skills were put to the test… oh my… I think that on average we only had to film every scene twice… so we were not too bad. Hahaha! Though I had never realised how hard acting is. We worked solid all Saturday to film all the scenes and by the end of Saturday I was exhausted. My favourite parts have been all the special effects: spice aliens, spiceships, doctors, eyeballs, blood, blood and more blood!! It was chocolate tasting blood which lead to quite a bit of confusing fun.

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Going to the doctor, with my new friend:
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the director, getting a bit exhasperated:

Some outdoor scenes and blood… always more blood…

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Then for some “romantic” indoor scenes:

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Our base doctor, Hazel, making blood with Ella… I thought it ended being REALLY realistic…. a bit suspicious… 🙂

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The director had a looooot of patience..

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tasty,…. huh?

and some final scenes…

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The film was edited on Sunday, and premiered at KEP living room. Now I know that if I can’t make in science, I can always knock at Hollywood doors! Hahaha!

The film can be seen here: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B6xKzE6p5KMFX0FrZXJlV3lkTDQ&usp=

Look into the 48h category/KEP South Georgia/It came from outer spice.

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A few more random pics of life at the station: Sunrise at KEP…. Amazing stuff!!

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A  day where we had another masive snowfall and I had to try snowrackets to reach the boating shed. Advice to would-be-Antarctic-explorers: “Do not try to jump with snowrackets on” …. … you’ll end up shamefully in the snow … plus risk breaking your legs!! A big no-no….

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My first King Penguin !!

 

And more of those incredibly  cute but sinister pintails… I still cant imagine them devouring a seal…

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Many thanks to everyone for watching this space!!!!

Wednesday, 31st of July, 2013: King Edward point

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It’s been 10 days since my last update. Progress with work has been slow, but we’re getting there. I’ve got six jellyfish traps and four bubble traps.

And I came up with a pulley system suspended between buoys and the shore to be able to deploy traps offshore. One day I tested whether the pulley system would actually work… I think the guys in the Pharos were having a good laugh out of seeing me throwing buoys and ropes off the pier, fighting the wind, and trying to retrieve them form the shore… I must admit it wasn’t my most glorious moment. At one point I was running back into the boathouse looking at the floor to make sure I didn’t step onto some icesheet, when I heard the spookiest noise ever… it was this guttural “grruuunnfff” combined with a blubbery slurp… I looked up and my heart nearly popped out of my chest.

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I was running straight onto an elephant seal, and intimidated by my unphased run, was now standing as tall as possible (and that was pretty tall… ) while backing up towards the sea and making noises to scare me off… The adrenaline rush left me laughing nervously for the next 20 minutes… Mental note: “Look where you put your feet AND where you are heading to!!!”.

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Anyhow, the pulley system worked… kinda. So I decided to go ahead and deploy a few buoys and see what happens. Monday was a lovely sunny day, so Ella and Hazel help me out and we were finally able to deploy two of these buoys (one about 30m offshore, and the other about 50m offshore), which thanks to the kelp forest proved to be a more difficult and complicated task than I had envisaged.

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But on the other hand, the pulley system worked a treat, and monday I was able to deploy two traps. And yesterday it was 6 traps. Thanks Tony for the wonderful pics!!!

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The traps are working very well, they traps lots of things and some get pretty full. But as of yet, not a fish larvae in sight… I was starting to feel a bit disheartened by the lack of larvae… how am I gonna get enough larvae if I can’t catch a single one? Sue had caught 17 larvae in the plankton trawl in the middle of the bay on Tuesday night, so there are some out there… I know I’ll have to try many more times before I even start thinking negatively… but, will the larvae even be so close to shore? and in such shallow waters? And then, while going through the records of last year’s trawls, Sue showed me that on September 2nd last year they caught over 700 larvae in the same trawl exercise. I then remembered that I wasn’t expecting to catch anything until at least early/mid August. So there is hope!!! Now the plans are to deploy some of the jellyfish traps in deeper waters off the other side of the Pharos while it is moored on the pier and keep deploying the traps from the pulley systems in front of the station.

On the social level, life at KEP has been jam-packed with activities. On a couple of afternoons base-commander Rod taught us how to use crampons and ice-axes, and how to stop yourself if you’re sliding down an icy slope towards a cliff… I have also attended Doc Hazel’s Medschool and learned how to put suture stiches!! I hope I will not be put into such a situation where either knowledge is needed…

Last Tuesday Sue organised a fantastic Quiz with the Pharos crew!! I was actually able to respond some of the questions!!! For once I felt useful on a quiz! Lots of questions about science, cooking, and geography… Loved it!! Though I managed to get a Eurovision question wrong…. Hahaha! Our team ended up second!! I then stayed up an the bar with some of the lads, and after a few beers I was showed the other side of “rocking” Pharos… A great night was had!!

On Friday night we had a dart completion against the staff at BAS Halley Station, which was great fun again! Commentators Paula and Joe made a great job at making us laugh with every throw. And on Paula’s P Saturday, after some lovely Paula’s Personalised Peppery Pizzas, I got everyone (or nearly) on the Prancefloor for some Practice-salsa moves. It was a good laugh, and I think people enjoyed it. Tomorrow’s is Paula’s departure party and I’m gutted to see her leave. She’s been an absolute star at making me feel at home here since day one. The whole “big brother house feeling” is becoming even more realistic…

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In the meantime I will leave you with a few pics of random things:

The view from walk to “the office” and me hard at work:

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A saturday afternoon in Grytviken, the old whaling station. Plus a pic of a flock of South Georgia Pintails… incredibly cute but carnivorous!!!!!

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We had a massive snowfall one day, which made everything (rubbish included) look beautiful. It also woke up the child in me…

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And a bit of drama on Paula’s P’day after she got her hair cut and her favorite wine glass got smashed… 😦 At least now she wont have the dilema of whether to take it with her or not….

Monday 22nd July, King Edward Point.

It’s been a week since I arrived, and what a week it has been. I am still grinning around non-stop and have caught a reputation of being “bubbly”…. Hahaha! No wonder with the life I am living here… Where to start? Well, I constructed two template fishlarvae traps: “bubble trap” and “jellyfish trap”

Jellyfish trap:

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And bubble trap!!

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I deployed them on Thursday night from the pier to test them and see how they behaved in the water and whether they survived the night. They floated nicely on the icy sea surface and were very bright indeed! I couldn’t stop watching them in the water, they were even pretty, glowing in the transparent sea with bits of ice floating around… and then things were darting around them! Excellent! The light bait was working… for something at least. Now they only needed to go INTO the trap.

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And they did!! The next day, I went to fetch the traps. Thankfully they were still there, still floating, still alight, and full of marine critters: gammarids, copepods, the odd isopod…. But no fish larvae..

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And one of the curious expectators around the event…

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Oh well, I was delighted that the traps actually trapped things. Now it’s just a case of making many traps and deploying them in as many places as possible to see if I can catch those little elusive dragons. So today I have made another five jellyfish traps that will be ready for deployment tomorrow eve. Nik’s attack on the fish larvae is about to start! Hahaha!

In terms of my free time and daily life at base, I tested my skis on the flat around base a couple of times. I found it hard initially but later on got the jazz of it. It’s a weird move, like moonwalking… and it hits some weird muscles, which are very much sore now. This weekend was blue skies and sunshine ALL weekend. Unbelievable weather, not even jealous of the UK heat wave. So Saturday I got over my achy legs and went skiing at the other side of the cove with Dan.

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Four hours cross-country and went up some hills and I discovered that I LOVE going up hills with the skis! Its amazing! They have these “high heels” that make going up the mountain like going up the stairs. Then it was going down which took me some time to remember how to turn. I think I have skied one day since I was 15. The scenery was once again incredible, the mountains, the frozen lakes, the blue skies.

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Saturday night is formal night here at the station with a three course meal! So I dressed up, tie and all! It started with a few drinks at the bar (including South Georgia brewed ale!) and then a delicious candle-lit dinner with one of my favourites for main: butternut squash risotto! The next few hours were spent getting to know everybody a bit more.

I started Sunday with my pancake ritual, and judging by the interest in them, I can proceed to make more next week (and perhaps put on some Sunday morning music). Hehe! And then by 10:30, I brave it off again, and set off skiing with Jo, Rod, Hazel and Ella, this time towards Maiviken. Once past Grytviken, we went uphill towards Deadman. Nothing prepared for what I was about to experience. After about one hour, we hit the top and I literally lost my breath…. It was unbelievable. The scenery was just impeccable; everything white, the different ranges of mountains, the valleys, the ski had several tones of light grey, pink and purple and the sea was reflecting it all… We had to stop for a good while to take it all in.

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Then, off we went downhill into that untouched snow. Some decided to return midway, but Hazel and I wanted more, so we carried on all the way to the Maiviken refuge to have a cuppa.

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By the time we came back around 4pm I was knackered, but good knackered.

Though I’m excited about the progress with work this week, I can’t wait for the next weekend to continue exploring this frozen paradise.