University of Southern California

Two Students Check In

Johanne Lewis, January 20, morning — Today marks the halfway point of my time Antarctica. Where did the time go? When I think back on the last 12 days, they seem like a whirlwind of training courses, lectures and adjusting to life in my new environment.

Now that our experiments are up and running, it’s easy to become lost in the daily activities of processing samples and analyzing data within the walls of the Crary Lab. However, it only takes one glance out the lab windows, which look out over McMurdo Sound and the Royal Society Mountain Range, to remind me of where I am and how fortunate I am to be here. Not only have I been given the opportunity to work directly with and learn from one of the leading researchers in my field; I also get to investigate the effect of thermal challenges on some amazing fish species that are only found in this cold, stable Antarctic environment. One of many perks of working in the comparative physiology/biochemistry research group of Stanford University’s George Somero is the need to restock our experimental animal supply on a regular basis. This means ice fishing!

Yesterday was a beauty of a day. The sun was out in full force, winds were low, and temperatures were above freezing. So after lunch we threw on our extreme cold weather gear (not that we needed it), grabbed the fishing poles and with a call on the radio to check in with “MacOps” (McMurdo Operations staff), we were tromping down the hill in our bunny boots to the fishing hole on the sea ice. The fishing was great, the conversation even better, and the scenery breathtaking. I can’t wait to experience what the next 12 days have in store for me!

Take a look at the catch of the day, Trematomus bernacchii (emerald notothen or emerald rockcod):

fish catch of day.jpgJohanne Lewis is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biology at the University of Ottawa.

idan flags.jpgIdan Tuval, January 20, evening — Working in Antarctica is a lot of fun. Just picture in your mind the following scenario: You are working in the lab, trying to understand some weird behavior a special form of ice has when interacting with some marine organism. This interaction has very important ecological consequences, and you really want to do your best to try to understand it better. So what do you do? You work hard for many hours and master a technique to grow this ice in the lab; but you still need to collect the organisms and bring them back to the lab. All you have to do is to go outside, ride your snowmobile at 30 miles per hour over the ice shelf, with the Transantarctic mountain range as a backdrop and the 24-hours-a-day sun in your face. Then you drill a hole in the ice and enjoy the periodic visit of a Weddell seal while collecting water samples. You go back to the lab, put the samples in the aquarium, and take a break for lunch. You go for a walk, and you eat your sandwich while contemplating the Minke whales that come to the water surface that opened through the broken sea ice. Not a bad day at all!

Idan Tuval is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Cambridge.


Johanne, I love the blogs, your personal one & now the official one too! :) xoxo Mum.
Johanne, my love I should have given you my warm Grenfell Parka. I guess it is to late to mail it. I am amazed at your adventure and am enjoying your blog. The fish that you caught look like the ones Stephen caught on the wharf in Dildo. I swear... Johanne, I am only being silly. In all seriousness, I am so proud of you and all that you have accomplished. Stay safe and warm. Love, Mary