Lastest dispatches from Antarctica
- As USF scientists prepare to leave Antarctica, the hard cold arrives
We're at our last stop, Joinville Island, and it feels like winter- Antarctic style.
- USF's Antarctic scientists find plenty of scenery, no silverfish
Only one silverfish caught in more than 24 hours of continuous sampling. (April 28, 2010)
- USF scientists rock and roll in rough Antarctic seas; silverfish are scarce
Gravity and ship motion have been high on our awareness list for the past couple of days. (April 20, 2010)
- Two Antarctic seals and their outsized personalities
For now, we'll introduce the seals on Avian Island -- the southern fur and the southern elephant seal. They are hugely different in size, habits, and personality. (April 13, 2010)
- Encounters with penguins while enduring wild ups and downs of Antarctic weather
We've been riding a roller coaster with the weather. (April 12, 2010)
Antarctic roadblock: icebergs, beautiful and lethal
[PATRICK ROWE | NSF]
The Antarctic Silverfish are important to the diet of Adelie penguins.
We left our southernmost sampling area at Charcot Island and headed north toward Marguerite Bay, with a scheduled stop in a small bay named Lazarev to look for Adelie penguins and sample for silverfish. We were stopped in our tracks by a fleet of icebergs. (April 2, 2010)
- Welcome to the edge of the map
Few people have come here. If you look at the few nautical charts available, there are almost no depths on them. And very often, the positions of the islands are incorrect. (March 29, 2010)
- First days of study near Antarctic's Palmer Station confirm absence of silverfish
After trying all of our nets multiple times our conclusion so far is: The penguins were right. There don't seem to be any silverfish near Palmer Station. (March 25, 2010)
- USF scientists catch a break on ocean crossing, arrive in Antarctica ahead of storm
The journey from Chile to Antarctica began with a 12-hour trip through the protected waters of the Strait of Magellan, just like the old tall ships did. (March 22, 2010)
- Dispatch from Punta Arenas: Earthquake prefaces USF scientists' Antarctic expedition
Travel to the Antarctic was interrupted by the massive earthquake on Feb. 27 that ripped through central Chile.
(March 18, 2010)
Photos, maps and graphics
[Photo by Paul Suprenand]
About the expedition
Related Web sites
Effects of global warming on animals: USF scientists study the Antarctic silverfish
What's happened to the Antarctic silverfish, which has gone missing from much of its range along the Antarctic coast? How has this disappearance affected the Adelie penguin, one of the silverfish's primary consumers in the food chain? Are both of these events connected to the effects of global warming on animals? Dr. Joseph Torres, a University of South Florida marine biologist, is leading a team of scientists intent on answering these questions. The investigative mission is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.
Here's what we know:
Torres says the Antarctic sea ice has long served as a refuge for newly hatched silverfish. But midwinter air temperatures in this region of Antarctica have risen 10 degrees in a generation. Higher temperatures mean far less sea ice; it forms later and doesn't last as long. Torres believes that with nowhere to hide, the Antarctic silverfish has been wiped out by predators in a large portion of its geographic range.
Aboard the Nathaniel B. Palmer, a 300-foot research ship, the scientists will trawl the coastal waters for the fish, will visit penguin rookeries to check the birds' diet, and will dissect the silverfish they find and apply some technical wizardry with their earbones (yes, fish have earbones) to determine their birthplace. If the scientists' suspicions are founded, then a six-inch fish could be a key player in conclusions about the effects of global warming and climate change.
The expedition begins with a sail from Punta Arenas, Chile, to Palmer Station, crossing one of the wildest stretches of ocean on the planet. Among the species the scientists may encounter are penguins, elephant seals and killer whales. And of course, there will be ice.
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