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We have just heard that Melinda and rest of the team are back in Punta Arenas after an "amazing crossing of the Drake Passage".
When the weather is bad we are confined to the station and can't go out to the field. This happened on Wednesday and Thursday. This is a good opportunity to do indoor experiments, identify moss samples and enter data. Plus do the washing, have showers, maybe catch up on sleep and update the blog. On Thursday after two days inside the weather cleared in the afternoon so we walked to the church.
This week, sixteen lucky students from Chile got to visit the INACH Science base on King George Island for a week. They were actually the winners from a nationwide competition of high school students and these were the ones whose projects had most impressed the selectors. So they were all very bright. They came to the Escudero base with four teachers and a representative from INACH. During the week they got to interact with the various science teams on and around the base.
Saturday night was sushi night at the Chilean Escudero base. Roberto and Christian the two chefs at the base, spent all afternoon making sushi. Apparently they were also providing some training for a chef from the the nearby Navy base and the Chief of the Navy Base came to dinner to try out the results. The result was spectacular or esstupendo!
The Collins glacier site, where one set of open top chambers has been installed, has very interesting vegetation. As the glacier retreats it exposes bare ground where seeds and spores can germinate. In Antarctica vegetation can also reproduce when fragments of the plants, called propagules, are spread from one area to another, possibly by birds or by wind or water dispersal.
One of the two vascular plants found in Antarctica is already colonising the area below the moraine line, this is Deschampsia antarctica the only native Antarctic grass.
As Mel said in the last post we visited Collins Glacier to set up Open Top Chambers (OTC). It is interesting to see how the moss and lichens are colonizing the ground as the glacier retreats. The moss beds are amazing, in some places it looks like a river of moss cascading down the hill. There are a lot more moss and lichen species here than at Casey so we are learning new ones every day.
Sharon and Andrew travelled down on a Chilean Air force Hercules plane and arrived at the Chilean base on King George Island on Saturday night. It was great to see Melinda, Angelica, Gustavo, Todd, Sarah and the rest of the team. There are 12 people working on Antarctic plants and lichens here at the moment. On Saturday night there was a reception party to welcome us all to the base and we met up with the other expeditioners over a few glasses of good Chilean wine.
We spent Christmas in Cornwall and made a Christmas tree out of plastic that we found on the beach at Strangles, a lovely beach in North Cornwall near Crackington Haven, with fabulous rock formations to explore. You can watch the video we made on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsAMdrU3-sw