print this page Print page email to a friendEmail to friend

Expedition 10 Cruise Dates
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28        
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30    

slideshow launch icon

sunny day
Today's Weather
Lat: 62 59.4 S
Long: 60 34.9 W
Wind: 4KT
Sea State: 2
Swell Height: <1
Baro Pressure: 975.6 mB
Air Temp: 3.8°C
Sea Surface Temp: 2.3°C
Vis:  10 NM

what's to eat?

Critter of the Day

Download a worksheet activity
and view examples of student work sent in by Carolyn Sheild from Jonas Clarke Middle School
in Lexington, MA.
A Day at Deception
March 7, 2006
by Kate Madin

At dawn our ship slipped through “Neptune’s Bellows”—the narrow opening with high, dark cliffs guarding the way into Deception Island, Antarctica. This is what Brenna McLeod has been waiting for, the whole cruise—the one day she can do the research that brought her here.

Brenna, a graduate student at Trent University, Canada, is trying to identify different species and regional stocks of whales by comparing their DNA. On this trip, she has been helping all the scientists with their lab work, but her real goal, and the reason she came, is inside Deception Island.

Deception, a ring-shaped island around a protected lagoon, formed when a volcano erupted (as recently as 1969) and seawater flooded the center. Inside the lagoon is Whaler’s Bay, where whaling stations processed whales into oil in the early twentieth century. The shallow floor of Whaler’s Bay is dotted with the bones of whales, left for nearly a century.

Brenna had the collecting permits she needed to take whalebone samples for DNA analysis. But she needed help, because she had a big job ahead.  “I was hoping for a hundred pieces of bone, from as many different individual whales as possible,” Brenna said, “but we didn’t know whether they would be easy to find.”

She climbed down into the Zodiac carrying a backpack and duffel bag stuffed with sample trays, jars, cleaning solution, drill bits and two cordless drills. With two teams of divers, Wally and Lena to help in the boat, and Peter to drive the boat, they headed to a shallow part of the bay to search for bones.

It was a long day. For four hours, the divers swam along the shallow bottom, located bones, and brought them to Brenna. Bones were numerous, and soon Brenna’s team couldn’t keep up with the divers. “We were the slowest part of the procedure,” she said. Brenna, Lena, and Wally cleaned, photographed and numbered each bone, drilled small holes in them, then carefully cleaned the holes and drilled again to collect fresh bone shavings that may contain DNA.

They gathered about 100 samples. “In the end what we got was perfect,” Brenna said. “And the scenery at Deception Island is amazing: I would look up at the mountains and at fur seals and penguins, and think, ‘here I am collecting samples in Antarctica.’”

“But the thing that moved me the most,” she said, “is how helpful everyone was. It was such an honor to have four divers and a whole boat to help you with your work. It’s such a big thing.”


[Back to top]