Cruises - Antarctica

PREAMBLE: The project’s focus is to investigate the effects of Ocean Acidification (OA) on zooplankton (small free floating animals) in the Antarctic. During this cruise we are specifically interested in a small (1-5 mm) mollusk (snail) that forms the base of the food chain in waters surrounding both the north poles and Antarctica. The snails consume much of the algae (single cell plants) that grow in the water and serve as food for larger animals including krill and larval fish. Like most mollusks, the flying snails have a shell made of calcium carbonate that dissolves as the seawater becomes more acidic. The snails keep from sinking out of the upper water column by creating a mucus parachute to feed and by flapping two small wings like a bird that lets them fly through the water, hence its name – “the flying snail”. The aim of this study is to examine changes in the behavior, physiology and fluid dynamics of these snails as the polar waters become more acid.

The project starts at the southern tip of Chile in the city of Punta Arenas (PA). There will be 2 days of boat preparations and safety training in PA before we depart on Nov 27th, Thanksgiving Day. We will be traveling on the research vessel Laurence M. Gould. The cruise track will take us around the tip of southern Chile through the Drake Passage to the Palmer Station. I will stay there for 17 days working in the lab. I will leave Palmer Station on Dec 17th and return home on Dec 23rd.