We have left Croker Passage for our last trawling station on Joinville Island. The verdict of our investigation? Silverfish are very rare here, if not completely gone.
We caught one silverfish in more than 24 hours of continuous sampling.
In 1983, colleagues caught dozens of silverfish in the Croker Passage at the same time of year, and they were using a much smaller net. We even trawled the bottom to see whether we could find silverfish below our normal sampling depths, but no luck.
When we get to Joinville Island, we will be strongly influenced by the cold waters of the Weddell Sea to the east of us (the Weddell Sea is the southernmost portion of the Atlantic Ocean). The Antarctic coastal current curves around the tip of the peninsula, most likely bringing lots of silverfish with it.
Our transit from Palmer station to Croker Passage took us through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. We allowed everyone not on watch to visit the Palmer base for a few hours. I was in the store when who should happen by but my USF colleague and Antarctic veteran, Bill Baker. Pretty small world.
It is a time-honored nautical tradition to recognize the crossing of important global landmarks while you are at sea, and we passed a big one on this cruise: the south polar circle at 66 degrees 30 minutes south latitude.
At this latitude, the sun does not rise above the horizon for part of the winter and doesn't sink below it for part of the summer.
If you haven't previously crossed a polar circle or the Equator, you are considered a pollywog and must be initiated into King Neptune's realm. The initiation can be ugly, and the details can't be revealed lest I feel the wrath of Neptune. Suffice it to say that all of our pollywogs were strong of heart and have been welcomed into Neptune's court.