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.
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
Sharon and Andrew arrived in Punta Arenas yesterday and Melinda has already flown down to King George Island with Angelica Casanova-Katny, Gustavo Zuniga and Todd Rosenstiel and Sarah Eppley from Portland.
Today we collected our kit (warm, wind proof clothing) and tomorrow we will do a briefing before we fly down to the base on Friday in a Chilean airforce Herc.
Yesterday we had pre-departure training at INACH ready for our flight to King George Island (Isla Rei Jorge), Antarctica. We had a medical briefing and then a practical session where I got tied up (see photographs).