Thursday, June 21, 2012

South America and Antarctica 24 - Palmer Station

Palmer Station is situated on the shoreline of Anvers Island, across the bay from Torgersen Island. As mentioned before, it is one of only three U.S. research stations manned year around in Antarctica.

Further evidence of global warming can be seen here. The glacier behind Palmer station used to extend all the way down to the ocean here. The glacier has gradually been receding during the last several decades. Now it is a significant walk from the station to the glacier.

It didn't matter how cold it got, none of us ever saw Russ Manning, our Zodiac driver for this trip over to Palmer Station, wear a hat. A British naturalist who has been coming to Antarctica for the last 13 seasons, his presence aboard Le Boreal was a wonderful addition to the other colorful crew members.

We were one of only 10 ships that will be allowed to visit Palmer Station during the summer season of 2011-2012. Palmer Station takes its research very seriously.

So much so that we were not allowed to visit the laboratories where the scientists were working.

After our outside tour we were, however, invited into the mess hall where we were offered scrumptious brownies. Abercrombie & Kent, the tour operators for this cruise, charged each of the 200 passengers a hundred dollars extra beyond their costs for this expedition. The extra money went toward the purchase of an expensive piece of scientific equipment that was badly needed here.

That seemed reasonable to us. The members of Palmer Station were invited aboard Le Boreal where the piece of equipment was presented to them, after which they shared lunch with us. The brownies were their way of reciprocating when we visited them.

Melony and I took the obligatory photos of each other to prove that we had, indeed, visited the place.

The island to the right of the ship above is Torgersen Island, which we had seen by Zodiac earlier in the day.

Palmer Station has its own fleet of Zodiacs, which are heavily used for research in the area. They do dives in dry suits, even, I believe, in the winter. In fact one of the scientists from Palmer Station was a passenger aboard our ship for this cruise. He said that a several substances from marine wildlife he has collected here are now being actively investigated as promising drugs.

I took this shot with the little Coolpix after we returned from Palmer station. We were not allowed to wear our rubber boots on the ship's carpets, which was a good idea, considering where they had been. So each room had its own doormat out in the hall for storage.

After dinner, remember it didn't get dark until after midnight here, the ship attempted to sail up the Lemaire Channel, seven miles long by one mile wide. Lemaire Channel is often referred to as Kodak Alley because of its spectacular scenery.

However, this evening, the clouds barely cleared the mountain tops and the channel was blocked by ice. If we had this trip to do over, I think we would have had better weather later in January, toward the second half of the Antarctic summer, than we did in early December.

Continue on to Post 25: Neko Harbour and Paradise Bay, by clicking here.


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