One of the best things of working in science is that you are often forced to get out of your “comfort zone” and learn a lot of new things about the marine system while engaging with new researchers from other fields and different study regions. This is what allows you to evolve towards a much global and integrative perspective on what is really happening in the ocean. Our participation on the 37th OPERANTAR, an expedition co-organized by the Brazilian Navy's Antarctic Program (PROANTAR) and by the Federal University of Rio Grande (FURG), is no exception. Our adventure started in early January, but only now we get to have a bit more time (and wi-fi!) to update you with some news.
It is with great enthusiasm that we are working in collaboration with FURG's High Latitudes Oceanography Group (GOAL) in the context of the projects PHYTO-NAP (Phytoplankton response to climate trends in the Northern Antarctic Peninsula) funded by the Portuguese Polar Program (PROPOLAR) and INTERBIOTA (“Biological Interactions in the marine ecosystems near the Antarctic Peninsula under different impacts of climate change”). The team is friendly and experienced, already with 15 years of monitoring the marine environment surrounding the Northern Antarctic Peninsula (for more details, see the Special Issue of Deep-Sea Research II, Kerr et al., 2018).
It was on January 3 that we sailed from Punta Arenas (Chile) heading south, on board the Brazilian Polar Ship Admiral Maximiano. After crossing the stunning Patagonian channels of Chile and Argentina, we arrived at the Drake Passage expecting a more difficult navigation, given the strength of the currents and waves typical of this region. The crossing towards the Antarctic Peninsula was, however, without any issues :-) The ship rocked a bit more, leading some of our travel mates to "seasick" or to take refuge for longer periods in their cabins. But the DUSTCO/PROPOLAR team members withstood the swing, remaining awake and enthusiastic at the triumphal entry into the Antarctic Zone, crossing the 60ºS.
On Saturdays, the work on deck is accompanied by festive music in the background, because it is barbecue day on the Brazilian ship. In these days, the Antarctic freezing cold contrasts with the ambience of samba and festive mood inside the ship. The OPERANTAR Antarctic expeditions consist of many months for these sailors to stay embarked in the polar cold. One must do what we can for better pass the time on board!
We are now crossing the Antarctic Strait on our way to the Weddell Sea, to start the second stage of our expedition. Over the next weeks we will try share with you the main sites and activities of this journey! Until then, greetings from "Uncle Max" as the ship is affectionately nicknamed by the sailors :-) Stay tuned!
Kerr et al., 2018.Northern Antarctic Peninsula: a marine climate hotspot of rapid changes on ecosystems and ocean dynamics. Deep-Sea Research Part II 149, 4–9.