Week 5: Goodbye Antarctica

Don’t get misled by the title!

This week kicked off with the leaving of a group of 12 person (scientists, artists and media people) to Korea (or to be more precise to Punta Arenas, Chile; and after 2 nights there they would fly to Paris and subsequently to Korea – a very long yet must be exciting  journey to get home). Dr Ahn was also in the group, and so was one of the divers. A reduced number of team members had somewhat taken a toll on us here in Antarctica, but it was not that bad since that was the plan and we have a comprehensive upcoming plan of what to do.

On the next day, there was another group, consisting pretty much the same number of people, coming to King Sejong Station. The Zodiacs (the inflatable boats) were full with people, and some goods which I was told were foods like fruits, vegs and frozen fishes. My excitement for having more fish and seafood was halted when the group leader (who knows about my halal diet) told that they could not get the fish and seafood due to the late delivery in Punta Arenas. I told him that I would be fine because I still have a few packets of Brahim’s chicken and beef to feed my stomach with much-need protein. Besides, the canned sardines that we normally have every now and again would do for me.

Waving good bye to the leaving group


BBQ and buffet dinner to welcome the newly arrived group

Now we also have 2 scientists from Spain in King Sejong station

Work wise, we started sampling at new station in this week. This intermediate station would allow us to know about the gradient of glacial impacts on the seabed ecosystem. Besides collected the benthic animals and took the pictures of the communities, the divers also collected sediment. The sediment samples will be analysed to determine the particle size composition and organic contents. The information from sediments are important to see the relationship between the organisms and their habitat characteristics.

Things don’t always go as planned. We only managed to sample the site once, because the weather and also due to technical problems with one of the Zodiacs. So, we filled our week with spending most of the time in the lab to analyse the data that we have so far, and preparing an abstract for Antarctic science conference which is due to be submitted by the end of this month.

A diver is preparing to get into the water while one of us planting a marker at this new site

Some of the sediment samples taken using a small hand core

Once in a while we would have mini seminar (normally on Saturday night). Talks were in Korean though

All day in the lab all week made us crave for some fresh air and some physical activities. Therefore, we spent the Sunday morning with climbing the King Sejong Hill (at least this is what the Koreans name this hill), which is the highest summit near the station. It is actually not very high as we only took 2 hours to climb (but very steep).  However, it was quite hard for me because the cold (what do you expect from a Malaysian guy to complain about other than cold?) and the wet (my shoes although waterproof but they are low-neck type, so the snow could easily get in to my shoes). 

Halfway through the summit

Halfway point with view of King Sejong station behind us

 Nearly there! 

Some snacks and coffee before starting our walk down the hill

 Sleding (with rubbish bag, not sled) made it easy to get down

Well, that was quite an exciting week for me. Although only had 1 day sampling in a week, but that is Antarctica! We can’t be very optimistic with our plan, especially when our works involving boat work and SCUBA diving. We are still within our schedule anyway. Hope the next week would be better.

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