Saturday, March 7, 2015

Monday, November 25, 2013

Running an Antarctic Marathon

I am the Banana. I wrote an 1800 word article for Northwest Runner and was featured on the cover!
Article is in print only so here I've attempted to paste the text.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Katabatic Winds

Katabatic Winds blowing snow off the land at up to and sometimes over 70knots (~mph). All decks are closed. Spray flies into the air off the cresting waves.
(3 photos by Rob Dunbar)

Rachel is a tiny girl, but seeing her whip around on deck gives a good visual of the power of the wind coming off the continent!

Cape Washington. You can see the winds driving the snow off the mountain tops. Icebergs drift in the background. Slush ice (grease ice) freezes on the top most layer of the sea. Photo by Allison Lee

LAND HO .... The end

The Icebreaker went through the Straights of Magellan and landed in Punta Arenas on April 5th, 2013.

Rachel is super happy to be near land

Rob Dunbar, Dave Mucceroni, and Dave Koweek admire the trees

Hello Punta Arenas. Hello civilization. Hello internet. Hello culture shock.
 We were so happy to see land.

We still had to package up and offload all of our sea water samples in the warehouse. I met a cat to help me do the job. In all I have THOUSANDS of samples I get to analyze back in Seattle. It will take me MONTHS to put it all  together. This trip was amazing and will only help fuel my progress in the lab back at home =)
Then we all got gussied up and promptly went out for drinks and food. LOTS OF DRINKS (we couldn't drink the entire 53 days on board)...and LOTS of good food.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


PENGUINS! At 5 a.m., the lone Emperor was spotted. The penguin team quickly assembled and set off in the Zodiak. They were able to tag their first Emperor penguin of the cruise. The transmitter is attached to the feathers on the wing and sends a signal every 40 seconds. If a satellite picks up the signal, the penguin’s location and diving behavior (depth, speed, duration, etc.) is recorded for the scientists to view on a computer. Once the penguins enter molting season, the tags fall off and are lost. Forever.

After a successful tagging of an Emperor penguin. Photo credit: Andrew Margolin.

Scientists reach the ice flow that the emperor penguin is resting on. They managed to approach the penguin without it moving. It just stood and stared at them. They have no concept of being afraid of humans. Photo credit: Andrew Margolin.
 Most of the time while we were breaking ice we saw Adelie Penguins waddling along the ice with a goofy cadence. On the rarer occasion we would see a lone Emperor by the ice edge:

ONE day when we tracked down a colony of Emperor Penguins so the penguin team could tag the juveniles we got to get up close and personal with the fearless birds. They waddle up to you like old catholic cardinals. They look at you out of one of their eyes and they talk amongst themselves with their trumpeted song.

Penguins have shark hooks on the end of their beak they use as ice picks to climb out of the water.

We built an igloo for fun. The penguins seemed to enjoy it as well. I think this igloo will stay there for years and years to come considering the environment doesn't really change much in the deserts of Antarctica.

Penguin art work. mmm guano.

Penguins loved the boat. Our engines stirred up plankton and fish for them to eat.

To read more about the penguin team click here. Their posts will have MUCH more information than I can capture in my blog.


Today was a wildlife smorgasbord. We saw Weddell seals, three Emperor penguins, a molting Adelie penguin (they don’t go swimming when they’re molting), snow petrels, and a pod of seven Orca whales. Fossils of penguins indicate they used to be six feet tall!


Probably the COOLEST day was the ONE day we got to get off the boat. We took snowmobile rides around the ice while the Penguin team caught penguins to tag. We approached a seal and out of the middle of the ice blubbered up another! Two Emperor Penguins came waddling on scene and we sat in rapt attention watching this Weddell Seal....unbelievable (its blurry for the 1st 30 seconds.

see more photos HERE

Pancake Ice & Algae Snot

Christina reaches down to grab the golden pancakes. Where's the maple syrup?!
 307_pancakeview(R. Dunbar photo)
Pancake Ice sits upon grease ice. To read the difference see post ICE 101

Nathaniel B Palmer in the thick of the phytoplankton bloom. The brown is the algae surrounding the circular disc shaped ice (pancake ice) this the pancake and syrup combo we've been looking for?! (photo cred Rob Dunbar)