JR161: Food webs in the Antarctic



Cruise Diary

Tuesday 14 November
Scotia Sea: Lat -60.64750 N, Long -48.70063 W

Day 21 of the cruise JR161 aboard the British Antarctic Research Ship RSS James Clark Ross

Tom writes:

This cruise is partly science-based and partly logistical as it involves opening a summer-only research base on Signy Island, and deposit six scientists and technicians and equipment and supplies for the season. Much of the past few days have been taken up with this, which has given all of us aboard the chance to get ashore and appreciate some of the wildlife and the scenery, and get some much needed exercise.


The James Clark Ross bashes through ice to reach Signy Island

Penguins flee from approaching ship
(we haven’t hit any, yet!)

Leopard seal, the top predator in this region, on the ice.

A pair of skuas have been resident at Signy for some years, Mr Friendly landed on the deck for a kick about.

First look at Signy Island, first land since we left the Falklands – it’s cold.

Bad news, two experienced members of the Signy crew, Dave and Matt, check the ice for strength and report that it’s too dangerous to attempt to reach the base by skidoo. Back out to sea to hope the ice melts to allow boats in.

Second time lucky. After a few days at sea doing science, the ice has broken up and a lead developed allowing the first people to reach the research station by boat.

Having established contact with the base, we wait for the next day to start unloading the cargo and enjoy a sunset over the ice.

Most important is the crew’s supply of beer and chocolate for the season. Together with everything else, this has to be carried across the island to the base.

All are happy to stop for a lunch break ashore.

A pleasant job was helping attach the sewerage pipe from the base under the ice.

It’s a hard walk carrying the equipment and supplies from the shore to the base, the James Clark Ross, which had seemed so large at sea, is dwarfed by the mountains.

Maria, despite being 5 foot nothing carries her share of kit, picking her way through the whale bones – Signy used to be a whaling station.

Jim showing off – the barrel is empty.

Back for another load

Hard work is worth it for the fantastic scenery.

More soon - please visit us again in a few days' time for the next installment....

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