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28 April, 2000

T5 Hut and the Science Technician 1 Question 69: What do the small toothed whales eat? The weather has turned cold (25 F) and it has clouded up again. Our group dived both in the morning and afternoon today. As I have been doing for several weeks, I also set up an amphipod preference assay in the morning and recorded the data in the evening. After putting the amphipods back in their storage jars in the aquarium, I hiked up the hill to the T-5 hut where Palmer's Science Technician had promised me a tour. Many science projects taking place here at Palmer Station involve long-term monitoring of environmental data. These projects' data consist mostly of measurements done every day of the entire year. These projects generally do not have a science team that travels to the station for an intense field season, but instead depend on data being compiled and sent to the scientists year-round by the Raytheon (previously ASA) station science technician. The science tech deals with any scientific equipment that is not for biological data collection, i.e. weather satellite computer, clean air VLF, tide gauge, geophysical and atmospheric monitors, etc. Most of these monitoring devices or, in a few cases, just their readouts, are in the T-5 hut. For gathering data for the United States Geological Survey's (USGS) Seismic Lab in Albuquerque, Palmer Station has a special building away from the rest of the station activity. It is built on a concrete pier, insulated from thermal and electromagnetic disturbance and houses three forced-mass position seismometers. Each seismometer is mounted on a separate plate under bell jars, styrofoam insulation and an outer layer of metal mesh. One measures north/south disturbances, one measures east/west disturbances and the last measures up/down disturbances. They detect disturbances over a broad range of frequencies. The seismometer data from Palmer that the scientists are most interested in are body waves traveling through the earth's mantle from disturbances in other areas of the planet. Seismometer data can tell approximately how far away a disturbance was and the general direction in which it occurred. With three stations surrounding the disturbance, the location can be identified precisely through a process called triangulation. If the disturbance event is not surrounded by seismic stations, not as much can be learned. With good geographical coverage lots of information can be gained about the faulting mechanism, so a southern hemisphere seismic station is vital. This seismic station is also part of the real time seismic component of the Comprehensive Test Band Treaty (CTBT) that assures that no secret nuclear weapons tests are conducted. Continued 4/29/00... Answer 68: Yes, there is the sperm whale, but only the adult male sperm whales migrate to the Southern Ocean where they dive deep beyond visible light and feed on squid and some fish. The female and young sperm whales live in temperate and subtropical waters. Other smaller toothed whales found in the waters around the Antarctic Peninsula include Arnoux's beaked whale, the southern bottlenose whale, the long-finned pilot whale and the hourglass dolphin.


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