Week 1: August 7-12 Our first week at Palmer Station was pretty hectic- between settling into our bedrooms, our lab, becoming acquainted with the station and adjusting to the night/day cycles here on the island we have all been working nonstop. The station and its crew are incredibly accommodating, streamlining our transition here and quickly making us feel at home in such an alien and distant setting.
Moving into our lab required the many mundane tasks associated in any move- unpacking, cleaning, and organizing- as well as laboratory tasks such as autoclaving glassware for use with molecular work. Joe set up a fluorometer in the aquarium room to start collecting data on Arthur Harbor water and Deneb dropped her first plankton net of the project into an aquarium tank. Preliminary microscope and fluorometry work on the samples collected from station indicate very low phytoplankton abundances. This is not surprising given the low ambient light levels and short days. We hope if the winds remain calm and the ice stable that growth will occur in the ice and just below it.
The ice surrounding the station is far too thick to send zodiacs far out to start collecting samples from Site E (two miles away)- where we will be gathering samples at various depths throughout the season. However, we were able to collect ice samples around the L.M. Gould (the ship that took us here). A zodiac was lowered off the side of the ship and Joe and Deneb- with the help of boating staff- were able to break free a few slabs of ice to run samples from. As I write, Deneb, Joe, Matt (the station boating coordinator), Neil (research associate) and Eddie (the former boating coordinator) are out collecting water samples in the brief wake/break in the ice the Gould created as she left this morning.
In the meantime, Austin and I are improving our comfort level with filtration systems in preparation for the slew of samples we anticipate processing in the coming months. Iva, among many other tasks, has been preparing a series of buffer solutions to be used in DNA/RNA extraction.
On a different and less science oriented note- the food on station is utterly divine, the views stunning, and the people are incredible. We especially thank all the members of Palmer Station who made this first, very challenging and hectic week much easier.