Friday, December 2, 2011

Antarctic Field Season 2011

Map of the Antarctic Peninsula region
(courtesy of M. Polito)
This year I will once again be traveling to the Antarctic Peninsula to conduct field work for my PhD research at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.  My research involves investigating spatial and temporal patterns of mercury availability in the Antarctic marine food web using penguins as biomonitors.  I collect eggshells and feathers discarded throughout the penguin colonies in the Antarctic to determine how much mercury the penguins have in their bodies.

In addition to collecting samples for my PhD research I also work as a member of the Oceanites Antarctic Site Inventory field crew.   My work for Oceanites involves conducting penguin population censuses at each stop along our journey and giving lectures about our research to passengers aboard the ship.  Speaking of ships, how do I get to Antarctica?

This year I will be traveling as a researcher aboard the Akademik Ioffe with One Ocean Expeditions.  To get to the Antarctic I will fly to Ushuaia, Argentina, literally the end of the world.  Ushuaia is the southern-most city in the world.  From Ushuaia I will board the Ioffe and set sail for the Antarctic Peninsula.  It takes approximately 1.5-2 days to travel from Ushuaia to the Antarctic Peninsula, sailing through the notorious Drake Passage which is often described as the roughest stretch of water in the world. 

I will be departing on this year's adventure on December 5, 2011 and board the Ioffe on December 8, 2011.  While on board I will not have internet access and will not be able to post blogs on a daily basis.  However, I would still love to interact with you all as much as I can and will post from Ushuaia on December 6-7, December 17-18, and December 29-30.  For classes following my blog I look forward to answering your questions prior to my departure and upon my return! 

Thank you so much for following me on my travels this year!

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Please feel free to post any questions and I will do my best to answer when I have internet access!