James Clark Ross diary – March 15th 2012

19 March, 2012

Melanie Mackenzie – Museum Victoria

Now that we’ve finished collecting specimens, the EVOLHIST biology team on board the James Clark Ross is busily working away in the ship’s labs. Dr Jen Jackson has been working with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) for the past two years, using her skills in molecular science to help build a ‘big picture’ of animal evolution in Antarctica. For this cruise Jen has been focussing mainly on jellyfish and sea cucumbers and is hoping that the DNA sequences she gains from these will eventually will help to give us a better idea of how species from the Weddell Sea relate to those from other parts of Antarctica.

Stu McMillan of BAS is helping Jen out with her DNA extractions today.  Together they are placing tiny pieces of animal tissue in small plastic vials, then pipetting, lysing (using enzymes to break the material down) and spinning these samples until their DNA is in an appropriate form for testing back in the BAS lab in Cambridge.  While Stu has a background in zoology this is the first time he’s been ‘back in the lab’ for quite a while – kept busy as the cook/dustman from UK’s Antarctic Halley Base where we recently picked up a very happy (and mostly bearded) group of 21.

The summer crew have been busy readying the new Halley 6 for its first winter. While we were not able to visit the ‘big blue caterpillar’ ourselves, we had the amazing experience of being allowed off the ship for a couple of hours on the ice-shelf as the crew busily loaded gear onto the James Clark Ross.

After the requisite safety-briefings from 2nd Mate Tim, Captain Jerry happily waved us off from the Bridge and we were free to run around like school-kids on a snow day – extremely happy to ‘stretch our legs’ after a month and a half on board.  Marine geologist Alex Tate took this to another level, running a lazy 10 kms as the rest of us wrote messages home in the snow.

Position Report for Entry

Latitude: 60° 13? S
Longitude: 48° 29? W
Cruise Number: (not entered)
Heading: 270.86°
Air Temperature: 1.0°C
Sea Temperature: -0.2°C
Pressure: 994.81 hPa