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Thursday, January 5, 2012

To read yesterday's journal entries, please click here:

Daily Journey Update - January 4

New photos posted on January 3! Click here to view:

Daily Journey Update - January 3

New video just posted on the Expedition Video page (scroll down to Video 9)

Scroll down to see new photos and journal entries from January 5

Expedition Update - 7:30pm EST

Evening update from Expedition Leader, Geoff Green:


I may be sounding like a broken record, but today has been another incredible day, with sunshine and blue sky! Ice prevented our passage down the Lemaire Channel this morning, so we proceeded directly to the Koerner Icecap, site of an ongoing Students on Ice research project. We hiked up to the top of the icecap and found the pole and mini weather station and data logger we left there last year. The students sat in a circle around the pole to learn about the research and also about the late, great Dr. Fritz Koerner. We had a tribute to Fritz which he would have loved, Tony played a beautiful song (the first song he ever wrote) and then we got to work replacing the equipment, digging snow pits for analysis, and more.

After lunch, we arrived to the US Research station Palmer, where we have just completed a great visit. The station personnel gave us a very interesting tour of their labs, facilities and answered lots of questions. It was a real opportunity to see what life on a research base is all about. They even brought out brownies for us! Thank you Palmer Station!

We are presently in the midst of about 15 Humpback whales as we make our way north. Hard to believe but tomorrow is our final day in Antarctica before we start our trip back across the Drake Passage.

In the expedition spirit,
Geoff

Expedition Update - 8:00am EST

New update from Expedition Leader Geoff Green:

Another big and successful day yesterday. Our morning was spent sailing south down the Gerlache Strait. Lectures and workshops took place inside and outside the ship, and it was a good chance to rest after three days of Antarctic adventure. We arrived to Ronge Island after lunch and went to shore. Spectacular light, Gentoo penguins, Weddell seals, workshops on climate, conservation, a hike onto the adjacent glaciar, and Zodiac cruises in the icebergs kept our eyes, ears, hearts and minds spinning. Back on the ship we taste feasted on Argentine Asado BBQ as we repositioned the ship to Danco Island. Our mission here, climb to the top of the ice domed island in the middle of the specatacular Errera Channel. We started at 7:15pm, and by 8:30pm everyone of the students was standing on top!! A 360 degree, staggering and stunning view of the surrounding mountains blanketed by ice was our reward under the light of the setting sun. We had 10 minutes of total silence (yes, its true, 60 teenagers totally silent!) and just stared into the distance of the landscape, and appreciated the moment.

Antarctica casts a spell on you. When here you don´t know what day it is. You are transfixed on the moment all of the time. There are no distractions except for nature. We are not bombarded by non-stop media, communication, advertising, noise, technology, consumerism and all the rest that we experience back home on a daily basis. This refreshes and frees the soul and mind and releases thoughts, feelings, ideas and passion. You can see this happening with the students. They are all so happy. They are enjoying being in a place of beauty where Mother Nature is in control. Of course they are still teenagers, they want to have fun, and they are at different stages of understanding themselves and this world we live in. But without any question, these 60 students now have a perspective, understanding, and a connection that will help them in many ways on their respective life paths.

Before descending (sliding!) back down the snow to the beach, we took a group photo and Selin read us a beautiful poem she had written. A hungry crowd boarded the ship, and our late night BBQ was well earned! Antarctica never stops, and just after dinner we encountered two Humpback whales feeding just beside the ship in a coordinated and graceful water ballet. Sublime and humbling to be with these whales.

As we do each evening, we gathered together for our recap and briefing to celebrate our day and share our experiences and highlights. It was midnight when we finally called it a day and crawled off to our beds...

This morning we awoke at the mouth of the Lemaire Channel on another beautiful sunny day. The channel has been blocked by ice for the entire season and the same was true for our visit. As a result, we could not pass through, but instead are heading towards the Wauwerman Islands, where we will make a landing to learn more about the pillow ice cap there. Students on Ice has been performing glaciological research on this ice cap for the last 4 years. We affectionately call this place the Koerner Pillow Ice Cap, after Fritz Koerner, an inspiring glaciologist and grandfather of Students on Ice. Students are busily writing post cards to mail from Port Lockroy , a historic UK base, this afternoon! Our whole team will be able to visit a US base, Palmer Station just after lunch.

Today's Education Program:

0700 - Yoga (Clare & Danièle)

0700 - Wake-Up! Get up on deck as we attempt to sail down the Lemaire Channel.

0730 - Breakfast

Morning program: Landing possibilities will be determined based on ice and weather conditions.

1200 - Lunch

1300 - Approximate arrival to Palmer Station.

1330 - Palmer Station and Torgersen Island


1800 - Possible Evening Landing: Wauwermans Islands and Koerner Pillow Ice Cap

2030 - Dinner

2130 - Evening Recap & Briefing

 

*****

New photos from January 5

 

Jeff Kavanaugh takes measurements at the weather data logger

Workshop circle on the summit of the Koerner Ice cap

Alisha Hendriksson takes notes during snow measurements

Jeff Kavanaugh and Maggie Campbell take snow pit measurements

on Koerner Ice Cap

Makivik students do an Ice Cap leap in the Wauwerman Islands on Koerner Ice Cap

Tony Dekker composes a song on the Koerner Ice Cap Summit

Elephant Seals moult near Palmer Station

Alex Taylor (L) & Jeff Kavanaugh recover data from weather monitor

Serena Tansy Soucy photographs krill at Palmer Station

Kaitlyn Mitchell meets an Adelie penguin near Palmer Station

Kaitlyn Mitchell soaks in the scenery from the top of the Koerner Ice Cap

Nunavik students Michael Petagumskum, Jamessie Cumberbatch and

Pam Stevenson give snow house building pointers to SOI expedition

staff members Lacia Kinnear and Clare Glassco

Checking out the Elephant Seals hauled out on the beach

next door to the Palmer Research Station

Adèlie Penguins on Torgeson Island

Spectacular mountains on the Antarctic continent as seen

from our ship as we left Palmer Station

 

*****

January 5 student journal entries

Carman Lam
San Jose, United States
Neumayer Channel
January 5th, 2012

Just got back from Palmer, the U.S. research station on the Antarctic Peninsula. It's a bit refreshing to see other people down here (besides the 88 others we've been pent up with on the ship for over a week). I'm currently having relationship issues with newly discovered homesickness--I miss California and land (after all this hiking in the snow, I will never underestimate the value of solid ground) and good, fresh food, but I never want this to end! Never before have I understood how a photograph might not capture perfectly a perfect moment, and never again will I take for granted my peripheral vision--Antarctic horizons transcend any written language. A mountain may not appear as far from the ship as it truly is, so when comprehension dawns and I realize its impossible magnitude, I realize too how raw and preciously scarce the landscape is here.

After all the landings today, I'm back on the ship wielding a hefty appetite, dinner in half an hour. If only this swell would quit knocking me over...

*****

MIKE PETAGUMSKUM

Jan 05/2012

Hi everyone, I’m having an awesome expedition. I had my birthday in Ushuaia and I’ve seen a lot of penguins, weddle seals, leopard seals, crab eater seals, and antarctic terns. I’ve met a lot of students and staff from many different countries and cultures.

 

*****

Hilmar Eggertsson
Gonderange, Luxembourg
Strait of Gerlache, Antarctica
5th Jan 2012

Wow.. I have so much to say and don't know where to begin, I do not have a favorite part of the trip as everything we have done has just been fantastic. The other day we had 'planned' to go to Snow Hill island, however the sea ice was too compact and therefore the ship could not cross it, so as Geoff the expedition leader says, "Flexibility is the key." We turned around and later that day made a landing on an ice flow in the ocean. It was massive. Stretching for over a mile, totally empty, giving us a feel for the Antarctic Plateau. There we took group photos and had loads of fun. We met with our POD groups and had a discussion on Climate Change. Then we spread out and sat in complete silence to think about where in the world we were. It was such a great feeling, hearing nothing but a few crackles in the nearby icebergs. There you realize how small we humans really are on this planet but how much of an impact we have.

After the five minutes of silence we played football on the pack ice, it was so much fun, as this particular sea ice was multi-year piece and therefore had a top layer of snow so everyone was falling and sinking. It was really difficult but great fun. With that football match we made history and are most likely the only people that have ever stepped on this piece of sea ice.

So far it has been such a great experience and we have all become more appreciative of our natural world.

Greetings from Antarctica,

Hilmar Eggertsson

 

*****

Kelly Chen
Richmond, Canada
Newmayre Channel
January 5th 2012

Today, I did my TED talk and also visited Palmer Station, an American research base. I think today was my favorite day so far of the expedition, just because I've had a chance to talk to so many people that I haven't before, and the conversations with them have been incredibly insightful! I still can't grasp that so many incredible professionals with tons of experience (and kindness and patience!) are onboard the same vessel as me, and that I actually have a chance to talk to them and learn about their experiences and stories. For example, David Fletcher has been to the Antarctic over a hundred times, so he's basically a walking Antarctic encyclopedia. Others like Sonja, a marine biologist, have so much knowledge about their field, so if I ever want to identify a whale, I know where to go. Then there's people like Elin, an environmental consultant and author, who are simply wise. I think you get the picture-- the people here are incredible!

My TED talk didn't go as planned-- I stumbled a lot, but I'm glad I gained more public speaking experience, as it's something I want to improve on. I spoke about the Enbridge Pipeline and its environmental consequences. It's a topic that I'm passionate about, so I'm hoping that with a bit more practice and experience, I'll be able to give a powerful speech about it! Finally, Palmer Station was definitely the highlight of my day. I loved being able to talk with the researchers at the station-- I think their perspective about Antarctica, as residents, is valuable and unique. I had the chance to talk to Sean, a seal/penguin biologist about endangered monk seals. It helped me realize that human activity is really having an enormous impact on wildlife, and that I think it's our responsiblity to protect them, as they cannot speak for themselves. It is incredible that in such a short time frame, we are wiping out species that have been here for millions of years. I also hope to learn more about conservation in the future.

 

*****

Rada Ilieva
Philadelphia, USA
Palmer Station
January 5, 2012

Today has been an amazing day! In the morning we climbed the Koerner Pillow Ice Cap. Once we got to the top, we got to experience a breathtaking view. All of the surrounding islands were covered with ice caps. We also got to participate in a long-term science experiment on the ice cap, which was very cool. There is a computer on a pole that measures various climate readings and then stores the data. We collected the data today and put a new computer in, so now the old data can be studied and new data can be collected. By studying this ice cap over a long period of time, scientists can try to apply the information gathered to the whole continent, and possibly solve problems happening right now. In the afternoon we went to the U. S. Palmer Research Station. This visit was one of the coolest on this trip. On the tour we saw how things at the station work. I was really excited to see everything and learn more about how the whole process of being hired to work at a station happens. Working in Antarctica seems like an amazing job!


Antarctica is the most amazing place that I have ever been to. It is so great that I cannot put it into words. Antarctica has really made me appreciate the whole planet and everything on it. It is really saddening to see this continent melting and changing in a somewhat negative way because of climate change. I really hope that human induced climate change can be reduced in the future because it would be terrible to see this amazing place disappear. I miss everyone back home, but I really wish I could spend more time here.

 

*****

Erica Whaley
Wakefield, Rhode Island
January 5, 2012

This morning those of us who are speaking at the TEDx Youth Antarctica meeting prepared our speeches. I didnt know what TED was before this trip, but I learned from Selin that TED is basically meetings where people present speeches about ideas worth sharing. TED x meetings are independently organized meetings, which are held all over the world. We are having the first ever TED x meeting on Antarctica, and it will be veiwed by people everywhere. I am going to be talking about what Antarctica means to me, and its a really personal thing to talk about. This trip is so amazing, it’s really hard to put into words. Speaking of amazing things, the highlight of my day was definitely seeing an iceberg roll over and fall apart. We were so close to it in the zodiac; it was really just spectacular. I miss my family more and more each day, but it’s also really sad to think about leaving. I want my brothers to know that I wrote both of their names in the snow in Antarctica, just like I promised.

 

*****

Briana Kowal
New York, New York
January 5, 2012

I can't believe it has only been a few days, in Antarctica, so far. We seem to do so much in one day! Even when we are on the ship, we seem to be doing so many things including lectures, experiments, workshops, and drinking lots of hot chocolate. Yesterday morning we had a penguin making contest. My penguin was really fat and was carrying a hockey stick. One of my favorite things we have done so far was playing soccer in the middle of an ice cap. Even though it was hard to run, since the ice went up to my knees, playing soccer on ice is way better than turf or grass. The view from the ice cap was unreal, like something from a dream. Everything around was untouched.


Today we are going to go work on a glacier experiment. Some universities have been working on this for a few years. We are also visiting an American science station and learning about what they are researching and then going on a zodiac cruise to see penguins that they are studying. I'm hoping also to mail some postcards even though they will not get home until way after I am back.

 

*****

Juliana Zaloom
Staten Island, NY
Palmer Station
January 5, 2012

The most amazing thing happened to me yesterday. I saw an iceberg literally crumble before my eyes. We were on a Zodiac cruise and all of a sudden, the iceberg we were cruising around disintegrated in an instant. These past couple of days have been tiring and I miss sleeping long! I am excited to be coming home on Tuesday, I miss all of my friends and family. Mom; I miss your hugs and your eyes. Dad; I miss your sarcasm and your witty remarks. Vincent; I miss fighting with you and your loving personality. Luke; I miss you and your transformers and I can't wait to see your teeth. I love you all and I will see you soon.

P.S. I want Wendy's for my welcome home dinner. P.P.S. to my Napoli peeps; if you're reading this, try not to have too much fun at work tomorrow without me! And Michelle, penguins SMELL sooooo bad, but they are absolutely adorable.

 

*****

Kaitlyn Mitchell
Palm Harbor, FL
Palmer Station
Janurary 5th, 2012

Today, we visited an American reserach station located on the Antarctica peninsula named Palmer Station. It was really, really interesting to see because it's exactly like a little town. The station has waste management workers, electricians, and mechanics. We learned that the U.S. has two other research stations in Antarctica, one of which is located on the South Pole and another closer to New Zealand. The Palmer Station has around 40 occupants during the summer, but the South Pole station has around 1,100. It's crazy to imagine how the South Pole station looks; considering many more people live there. We also learned that the scientists live here at the Palmer Station for six months during the summer, and only some stay for the winter season. The Palmer Station allows no more than 12 ships to visit them each year. Although they have never had visitors as young as our group, they have had a mixture of ages and nationalities. If they were to allow more ships to come and visit them, they would not get much scientific work done, which is key since it is the main purpose they are here. They have no TVs, but many movies. They have internet too. My group's tour guide was telling us about how he ordered merchandise online, and it took a month and a half to reach him. We did learn a lot about the types of scientists living on site at the station. My passion for eventually becoming a marine biologist grows tremendously as I'm learning. There is so much we don't know and don't understand about Antarctica's marine life, including penguins, seals, whales, and fish. After my experience at the Palmer Station today, I've decided that it is my dream to eventually return as a scientist to study the amazing marine life here.

 

*****

Laurissa Christie

January 5
Tara, Canada

This experience has been beyond incredible. I have enjoyed meeting all of these wonderful people who have turned into my Students on Ice family. One of my highlights yesterday was around 11:30pm when we sailed into an area where we saw humpback whales. They were beautiful and free in the icy Antarctic waters. We are now sailing into some ice so the boat is shaking. I am very excited for our last few days in Antarctica, but will be very sad to leave all of these people. Mother Antarctica has been good for us. I am thinking a lot about the Arctic and comparing those changes to the changes here. Learning about the poles is so crucial to understanding our planet to realize how we can have a smaller impact on it.

There have been so many highlights of this expedition. I loved playing soccer on sea ice, and climbing up a volcano. I am spending as much time on deck as possible soaking it all in, and am finding little time to blog. Sorry I haven't written as often as I would have liked to. We are free here. We do not have cell phones, or internet service. In a technological world, very few of us take time to observe the natural world around us. We feel so disconnected but yet more connected than we ever have before. Instead of emailing we are writing, instead of texting we are talking, and instead of social networking we are networking with staff and students.

We are having so much fun. I have never laughed so hard. I feel so blessed to be here. I cannot begin to thank my family, friends, school, and community enough for supporting me on this journey. Thank you to the Gingerpress, Students on Ice, and my parents for all of your support! This has been an experience I will never forget and I am struggling to put it into words on this journal entry for the website.

We are going ashore soon and have a busy day ahead of us. With some great karma and flexibility I am sure it will another incredible day. I love the surprise aspect of this expedition. We never know where we are going, or what we are going to see. This morning could end up being the best day of my life as many days here have been. Lots of love. Laurissa

 

*****

Leah Davidson
Sherbrooke, Quebec
Neumayer Channel
January 5, 2012

Although textbooks and chalkboards do not abound on the M/V Ushuaia, it is my all-time favourite classroom. There is so much knowledge and intellect on board that I have no doubt we could collectively bring home millions on most trivia shows. I loved sitting beside Santiago, a bird connoisseur, at the dinner table and finding out that king and rockhopper penguins dwell in the sub-Antarctic islands. I loved discussing with polar experts Olle and David their expectations regarding the future of the Antarctic Treaty. Touring the peninsula with glaciologists, a man who has scaled all the world's major summits, entrepreneurs, penguin researchers, doctors, and lawyers reminds me of the wealth of information that is ours to explore, manipulate, and use to right observable wrongs. At school when I am solving a problem on derivatives or writing an argumentative essay against human cloning, I often wonder when the waiting will end and "real life" will begin. On this trip, I have relished the opportunity to not only gain insight into climate change, the Antarctic ecosystem, ice dynamics, and famous historical explorers, but also to relive my 12 years of formal education. I have had to recall facts about the greenhouse effect and metamorphic rocks from early high school science. I practiced public speaking by recording a TED video and attended art workshops. Whether delving into oceanography, geography or photography, I hope I stay a student forever.

 

*****

Heather Rose Etok
Kangiqsualujjuaq, Canada
January 5th 2012

Again, wow! I'm having such an amazingly awesome time! Seeing all the things I've seen so far! Wow! From Penguins to seals to whales! I got to see two humpback whales feeding on krill for like 20 minutes yesterday. So cool and I got to get some pretty good pictures of it too! I seriously can't wait to go home and show my family. I'm sorry Nikita! I didn't get a chance to write an entry last night but I was thinking of you the WHOLE day! Happy Belated First Birthday Baby!! ikallaapik ukiuliapiulirtuk! UMMMP! Nalligivarit babyyy! Kunitsugillu! Mom and Dad, I miss you both so much! Tavungaalulaursimalaarunnaigama! ittusuuk :P takusaqatausungumangaappi qaujimanginama, suunguguvit Paingugivarit isumainna! ummp!


I love you guys and see you in six days!

*****

Stephanie Shimabuku

Astoria, New York

Yesterday we landed on Wauwerman Island. We did another hike, but it was not tiring like the previous one. We all sat on an ice cap, using a data logger to help us understand what happening on the glacier. About every year the temperature and density is updated. The second excursion was to Palmer station. It is a base where people stay in the Antarctica for the winter and summer. Scientist and researchers practice experiments on glaciers, animals, and insects. It was nice to see people living in Antarctica as it is very rare.

*****

Camille Slack

January 5th, 2012

Gerlache Strait

We have been so busy with all the incredible excurtions, lectures and activities that nobody has had the time to think about being tired. Today, however that caught up with everyone. The energy on board the ship was not up to it's usual and I think everyone needed time to recuperate. We had an awesome day, with two excurtions, one to the Wauwerman Islands and the Koerner Pillow Ice Cap and the second to the Palm Station as well as Torgsen Island. Afterwards we had quiet time which basically consisted of a giant nap of the lounge floor. Today was great, even if a bit quieter than most days, and tomorrow is our last full day. Deception Island is our last stop before our return to Argentina and then back home.

 

 

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