Well, with four weeks to go I am starting to pack those last minute essentials (woolly pom pom hat- thanks to my sister for that! I fully expect to scare a few folk whist whilst wearing it! Pic to follow). I am also practicing macro-photography with my trusty D700 and some shamelessly nicked…sorry, borrowed, bits from my husband’s extensive collection of camera gear (that’s why he is the pro and I’m not- check out his webpage here Charles Waller Photography). It is going to be a challenge, just getting the tripod set up and steady on the ship, never mind getting good images, but I will do my best. I shall be posting any good pictures here. Who knows there may be species new to science to show you.
My main goal is kelp collecting as we head through the Drake passage. Floating rafts of kelp are a common sight in the waters surrounding the Falkland Islands and the Southern Bull Kelp (Durvillaea antarctica) is widespread in the Southern Ocean. Stephen Smith in 2002 estimated that there may be > 70 million kelp rafts afloat at any one time, 20 million of which support an intact holdfast! That’s a LOT of kelp! (Read his paper here Smith, 2002). We are interested where the kelp comes from originally and what animals might live on or among the fronds or amongst the “holdfasts” (the clawlike bit that holds it onto the seabed). We want to understand if these critters might be able to survive once they are carried across the Antarctic Polar Front and into the Southern Ocean. This “rafting” may be a way for invasive species to colonise these waters.
Georgette Douwma / naturepl.com©
Above: Durvillaea antarctica. Image: Revista de Biología Marina y Oceanografía
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