The moss team at Escudero base has dispersed. Sharon, Sarah and Andrew left by plane to Punta Arenas on Tuesday 20th. Sarah is now back in Portland and we are in Australia. Meanwhile Melinda, Angelica, Andreas, Todd, Hannah and Paz got onto a Chilean Navy ship, The Achilles, early on Thursday and are en route to Byers Peninsula for some Antarctic Camping! Gustavo, Marisol and Tavo are still at the Base. They should have more food now that we have left and the Achilles has resupplied them.
After a few days in the field collecting moss samples and becoming familiar with the many types of moss species living on King George Island, we had enough to begin experimenting in the lab.
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!
Since my arrival on King George Island, I have been sciencing-away making the most of the opportunities to collect samples, learn new moss species, perform experiments and set up new ones. It has been exciting to meet with new collaborators and make new contacts in Antarctic science.
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.
On Tuesday 6th Jan, I arrived on King George Island, Antarctica by plane! After much organisation over the past few months and a long journey to Punta Arenas, Chile I am finally here.