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21 April, 2000

Redeployment Preparation; Intertidal Trip; Developing Film Question 62: What is the biggest animal in the world? What and how much does it eat? On this gray and rainy morning our whole science team met with the station manager, cargo handlers, and lab manager for an equally dreary reason-- redeployment, preparations for leaving Antarctica. Plane reservations, cargo and luggage requirements, clothing issue, lab space clean-up and the ship's schedule all needed to be discussed. Since the original plane reservations were made in February, the estimated ship schedule no longer matches up with our plane's departure. We have to fill out paperwork for new plane tickets based on the new, estimated date of arrival into Punta Arenas. We will probably have to change them again right before the ship arrives when we have a firm idea of what day and time we will actually arrive. There is also paperwork to fill out for lost or damaged items of clothing from the AGUNSA warehouse. Bill and Chuck have already spent lots of time figuring out how many boxes, freezesafes and coolers we will be shipping and carrying back and listing their contents. Some things (such as the live Odentaster starfish) will go back as luggage and will need to have new ice provided for them in Miami. Other things will be boxed up and sent by commercial air cargo once they reach Chile. After finishing the paperwork, we took off for one last trip to collect algae from the intertidal zone on Laggard Island. It was snowing and a little windy with large swells when we left, but not bad enough to keep us in. We all put on our drysuits with dry gloves so that we would stay warm and dry no matter what. Once at Laggard with the boat tied up, we split up into several pairs to go to different tidepools. I hiked across half the island with Bill Baker to a few pools on the exposed southern side. We had to be careful clambering across the sharp, steep rocks with the slippery covering of snow in our smooth drysuit boots. The deep pools we were collecting from are five feet above sea level. When big waves come in, they crash over the unsheltered edge and wash us around. It ended up being easier to sit down and float in the water than try to keep our footing in the slippery pool. We used forceps (large, blunt-tipped tweezers) to pick small clumps of algae off the rocks. Of course, the largest clumps were over the edge where the waves continually crashed. My head got very wet before I gave up trying to get them. We each had a large plastic jar to put our collected algae in. When waves crashed over us, our only thought was to not lose those jars! It kept snowing more and more while we were at the island, and by the time we were ready to leave it was snowing so hard we could not see Anvers Island at all. Leaving the island we got turned around and ended up going the opposite way from the station for a few minutes. Everyone watched the outlines of the few small islands we could see through the falling snow very tensely until we got the GPS unit working. We were glad to see the glacial edge of Anvers Island and the rocky point of Bonaparte appear! After our full day, I took the evening off and spent the time developing prints from some of my black and white film. I had never developed any of my own film or prints before. The wintering maintenance technician, Zee Evans, has been teaching me all the tricks (and more importantly, walking me through every step). Opening the film canisters and loading the film onto the developing reels in the dark is difficult but worth the effort when you get the crisp final print that you have worked on every step of the way! Answer 61: No. Baleen, also called whalebone even though it is not bone, varies in length and coarseness in different species. Right whales have the finest and densest baleen. Their baleen plates can be two meters long and about a meter wide at the base. Each row is made up of a series of plates, the edges of which have fine strands similar to the frayed ends of a rope. Right whales can strain smaller plankton than the blue, fin and minke whales whose coarser baleen plates strain out only the larger euphausiids (krill). Another difference: While baleen is usually black except for the frayed edges which can be whitish, the baleen of the fin whale is streaked purple and white.


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