May 16, 2001
Latitude: 69° 11 118 S
Longitude: 72° 45 901 W
Temperature: -0.7° C (31° F)
Wind Chill: -17.6° C (1° F)
Seas: 6 to 8 feet
Video: Watch crabeater seals
(Download free RealPlayer)
Over the past four days weve completed a survey transect that took us out to sea and back to the
coast of Alexander Island. During this time, we weathered another gale. We lost about 16 hours to
weather as we had BIOMAPER II in the water and decided to cruise a course with following seas so
that there would be less wear on the tow cable, which had just been repaired.
Daylight is very short now. Less than four hours. We were treated to an escort by about 70 crabeater
seals. They started trailing the ship before daylight and stayed with us all day.
Were heading back out to sea after passing over some of the largest concentrations of krill that weve
seen thus far. We may revisit this spot after the survey portion of the cruise is complete.
Here are more questions sent in to us via e-mail:
Q: I am a seventh grade geography teacher in Greenfield, Wisconsin. We are following your journey
as part of our Antarctica unit. The students really want to know one thing: Why are there no polar
bears in Antarctica? We have discussed possible reasons, but they would like an expert opinion.
Denise Kultgen in Wisconsin
A: All bears (not just polar bears) evolved in the Northern Hemisphere (in what is now North America,
Europe, and Asia) and adapted to habitats all the way up to the Arctic, which is where polar bears
now live. By then, Antarctica was geographically isolated from the other continents, and bears were
nowhere to be found in the Southern Hemisphere. Similarly, there are no penguins in the Arctic.
Hope this helps.
Thanks to Ari Friedlaender for answering this one!
Here are some questions from Mrs. Mohrs second grade class in Florida:
Q: How is the ship able to break through the ice?
A: The ship has a specially constructed bow that lets it ride over the ice. The weight of the ship then
breaks the ice. For a good description of the ship, see Captain Watsons description.
Q: Did anyone get seasick or hurt going through Drake Passage?
A: A few of the scientists on board did get a bit seasick during the crossing of Drake Passage. No one
Here are some questions from Mrs. Butlers sixth grade classes in Indianapolis, Indiana:
Q: Is the water that you drink while in Antarctica imported, or does it come from the glaciers?
A: The water we drink is desalinated seawater. In the engine room, there are three evaporative
desalinators. They are able to produce 15,000 gallons of potable water daily.
Q: While wearing all the gear in Antarctica, do you ever get hot?
A: The key to staying warm is dressing in layers. One of the benefits to layering is that you can adjust
the temperature by adding or removing layers. So, when you get too warm, just simply remove a
Q: Is the work that you are doing in Antarctica going to affect the rest of the world in a beneficial
way, and if so, how?
A: Eileen Hofmann gave a very good answer to this question earlier in the cruise.
Q: What exactly are you doing there?
If you look at the mission page, youll find the overview of the Southern Ocean
GLOBEC program. Im documenting the cruise for nationalgeographic.com. At the same time, Im
serving as part of the science crew. I work the midnight to noon watch working with the CTD. The science goes on twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. When Im not on watch
(and sometimes during slow periods when I am) I try to keep up on whats happening around the
Q: Is the chance to be in Antarctica worth the long round trip?
A: Most definitely. The round trip is not really that long. It takes about a day in airplanes to reach
Punta Arenas, Chile. Then, after a 3 to 5 day crossing of the Drake Passage, youre in the waters of
Antarctica. Except for a brief stop at Palmer Station, we have been at sea since April 24. So far, I can
say that spending time in Antarctic waters is phenomenal.
Mark Christmas, nationalgeographic.com field producer
Have a question for Mark or the SeaLab team about the expedition or life at sea in Antarctica? In every dispatch, Mark will answer selected questions from readers.
[Note: nationalgeographic.com does not research or copyedit dispatches.]
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