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April 12-13th, 2014 - Palmer Station

Our first arrival at Palmer Station

by Andrew Klein

Andrew's head

Well today we arrived at Palmer Station. One of the biology groups was trawling for zooplankton in Palmer Deep, which as the name implies deep water about 15 miles away from the station throughout the night. Steve and I were up early in anticipation that we might collect a few more of our benthic samples as came into Palmer. However, since many of our samples are in waters shallower than the 100+ m the Gould likes to operate in the captain decided he did not want to collect our samples in the dark. So onto Palmer we went.

Palmer Station from the LMG
Palmer Station from the LMG

Lest we had forgotten that Palmer Station was indeed a USAP facility, the numerous briefings we had today soon reminded us that was the case. Like at McMurdo Station, much of your first day on station is taken up by a myriad of briefings. At about 8:45, Bob the Palmer Station manager came aboard the LGM and gave all of us new arrivals the beginning brief. Following this, all passengers disembarked the Gould and met in the Galley for a station walk around and yet another briefing by the assistant station admin.

Following these briefings, all the passengers headed back to the LMG for lunch. With the exception of the five of us who would remain on board the LMG all other passengers disembarked the ship after lunch to find their berthings on the station. After lunch, there was a Galley briefing as everyone has to help in the Galley as well as a waste briefing.
Following this, Steve and I as well as all other science groups had a tour and briefing on the science labs at Palmer. We are very lucky that we have a whole bay assigned to us when we work on Station. We also have some office space. The lab manager at Palmer is Linnah Neidel whom we worked with in Crary Lab at McMurdo in November.

the station, the ship and an iceberg
The Station, the Ship and an Iceberg

The whole day was not just briefings. As soon as we got off the ship there were hugs all around as we reconnected with Rob Robbins and Steve Rupp our diver buddies. And much to our surprise Jack Baldelli was also there.  We hadn’t seen Jack since the early 2000s when he worked with us – and taught me how to coil surface supply hose. And he couldn’t help tease me about how slow of a learner I was! It was very nice seeing old friends in a new setting.

Tonight’s dinner is what is considered a “crosstown” dinner with both station and ship personnel sharing a meal at Palmer. On top of that it was Pizza night! Steve and I thought we needed to be at dinner early because invariably there would be “Diver Dinner” which starts the second the galley opens up. We were correct; at opening time Rob, Steve and Jack were already in line. We had a wonderful dinner meeting old friends and making new ones.

Palmer Station is quite different than McMurdo in size and culture. At Palmer there are only forty-four beds compared to McMurdo which can accommodate over 1000 people. So Palmer is a small, but open and welcoming community. Perhaps not surprisingly, there are many people we recognized, and who recognized us from our time at McMurdo.
After dinner we had a wonderful time at the Palmer lounge/bar were we talked to many people. Finally it was time to head back to the LMG for bed. I think I had a bit earlier night than did Steve.

Our 2nd day at Palmer Station was a hectic one. The LMG is heading out for fishing at 8 am tomorrow morning so we had to prepare all our sampling equipment as we expected to sample immediately after the LMG left the dock. Steve and I spent the morning organizing the wet lab aboard the LGM that we would be using while at sea. After that we talked to the divers about our sampling when we will be working on station once we return to Palmer. We also spent time locating equipment and chemicals on station that we would need with us on the LMG for tomorrow’s trip.
Since we are staying aboard the LMG, we had to go across to the ship for lunch and stayed until our 1:30 meeting were we discussed the LMG’s plans for the next two trips. It looks like we are going out to sea until Wednesday or Thursday on a short fishing trip towards Low Island. After talking to the Chief Scientist – William Dietrich from Northeastern – and the captain we expect to collect 4-5 sites tomorrow as we leave Palmer Station in the morning.

We spent the afternoon both collecting materials and preparing the formalin solution we will use to preserve the benthic organisms we collect at our soft-bottom (SB) sites. Even though we have only been on station for a day, it feels like we pretty much know our way around. It is starting to seem like home.

Well dinner time finally arrived so we headed to the LMG for a quick bite to eat and then went back to Palmer to meet with our friends before shipping out.

However, an interesting twist has emerged. A rather large iceberg drifted in after the LMG arrived on Station and is situated a few hundred meters from the LMG blocking our exit. The question of the night is will the iceberg shift to allow us to leave in the morning!

an iceberg in front of the LMG
The iceberg