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Livingston Island, First Trip Ashore

Livingston Island, First trip ashore

Livingston Island, First trip ashore

Click HERE to check out Ms. Debbie’s adventures from the beginning.

Today we woke up with a lot of excitement!  We were going on our first trip ashore! We spent a lot of time getting everything ready the day before including packing our “dry bags.”  These bags have extra clothes, shoes, gloves, water, etc.  in case what we are wearing becomes too wet.  We also take survival bags in case we must stay on the island and it’s not possible to get back to the ship.

Our first stop is Livingston Island.  This is a very special spot.  It is an ASPA site.  This means that it is an Antarctic Specially Protected Area.  We had to obtain special permits to go to this island and only a few people on the boat are permitted.    They have gone to great lengths to keep it as natural as possible.  We had to be very diligent to keep our impact to a minimum.

The boats we rode on are called zodiacs.  These are large rubber boats with a motor on the back.  In order to go, we had to dress appropriately.  We had to wear a “float coat” that is equipped with a floating device if we go overboard (although the water is about  2 degrees so we wouldn’t survive long!)  We had to load all of our gear and then climb down the Jacob’s ladder into the boat.  I have to say it’s scary!  The seas were especially rough and the ride to the island was very wet with sea water!

Upon arriving, we unloaded and changed into drier clothes.  We set off on our first mission to find midges!  (Check out one of the links below to learn more about them!)  We found our first site and started looking for them!  Luckily for us, we found lots!  We used a special tool called an aspirator to suck up the midge and then put it into a small vial.  These are labeled and will be sent back to the US for genetic testing.  We collected about 50 midges from this site.  We also buried a data logger that will record temperature every hour for a year. This will be for the scientists who visit this location next year.

We moved on and walked around the island looking for more sites.  Some places we did not find them.  It was VERY windy and difficult to walk against the wind.  It was cold too.  I’ve never experienced anything quite like it.  Imagine walking across a quiet, rocky, windy, cold, desert all bundled up with 4 pair of pants, 2 shirts, 2 jackets, a gaiter (scarf), a hat and 2 hoods, and gloves!  We did see moss growing on the ground and a few grasses, but no trees.  The other team we came with, is the “moss team.” They are studying core moss samples and collecting from different places on the island.

On our second site, we found a few seals.  These are elephant seals and they were molting. We saw lots of other seals on the island too. Most of them were on the seashore.  It is the end of their breeding season.  We only saw one male… he was huge!  Males can be up to 11,000lbs. There were a couple of fur seals as well, but you must be very careful around them as they can be aggressive.

Another really cool thing we found on this island are bones! Seal bones, penguin bones, and even whale bones!  They were amazing!  One bone we found was huge!  We think it is a whale rib!  My friend Diane laid down to give you an idea of how big it was!  Probably over 15 feet!

We are trying to find 3 very different sites to collect midges on each island.  The third stop today was near several groups of penguins.  On this island we saw Gentoo penguins and Chinstrap penguins.


These are both sub Antarctic species and we will see them on several of the islands we will be going.  Can you tell the difference?  See if you can find out how they are similar and different!

Hope you are enjoying the adventure so far!  Please send me questions and comments!

Follow me on Twitter @aflyonthepole

Bye for now!  See you soon from Cierva Pt.!

Ms. Debbie


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    Check out these webcams of Palmer Stations and a nearby penguin colony

    Get started learning about the Antarctic Midge:

    How Does Antarctica’s Only Native Insect Survive Extreme Cold?

    Has climate change affected a bug that can stay frozen for 9 months? This UK researcher will find out

    Learn all about the work done at the Insect Stress Biology Lab at the University of Kentucky


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