Week 6: A Surprise Visit

This was the most successful week for us. We were able to go sampling nearly every day. That’s very rare in Antarctica.

Apart from our routine benthic sampling, we also went sampling to measure the seawater characteristics (such as salinity, temperature, and chlorophyll-a). This time we went with other group who work on plankton.  Since boat work is of interest to many people, there were also 2 terrestrial (land) ecologists came along to join us. And, not to forget, an assistant cook who also turned up to give a hand.

Sampling took place around Marian Cove, comprising of 15 stations. The instruments used were CTD device (Conductivity, Temperature, Depth) to measure the characteristics of seawater column in situ, van Dorn water sampler to take water sample near the sea bottom, plankton net to collect plankton (animals living in the surface or upper layer of water body as opposed to benthos on the bottom), and Secchi disk to measure water turbidity.

On that day, we managed to sample 11 stations. Floating ice that cover almost entire surface of area next to the shoreline prevented us to get to the other 4 stations. They were sampled two days later anyway.

The works are actually quite simple. It is just the matter of deploying the equipment at one station and pull it up on board before moving to the next stations. However, it needs two and sometimes (or maybe most of the time) four strong arms to pull the 2-4 kg equipment especially in stations of nearly 100 m depth. Therefore, we made a rotation as to who are responsible to pull the CTD up at particular stations.

These works will be done again next month by the people who would still be in Antarctica, including Dr Ahn’s PhD student, Hwe-Woon, who has been very helpful.

Bum Seok is preparing the CTD before deploying to the next station

Julio is doing his turn with the CTD while Maria and Ji Hun are working with plankton net
Sang Yong, the assistant cook seems happy to be working on boat after a long spell in the kitchen

Me at the beginning of getting the CTD on the boat, before the strong current and the 90 m depth taken a toll on me


Hye Woon is setting up the water sampler

Actually this week was the most ‘busy’ in King Sejong. We have two Spanish scientists (who had been here since past 3 weeks), a scientist from Thailand (who was here for 3 days), and a group of Brazilian scientists who visited King Sejong on Friday the 24th.

And of course, the highlight for me would be the visit of Malaysian delegates to King Sejong Station on the 22nd. They were Menteri Besar of Terengganu, Datuk Seri Ahmad Said; Chief Secretary in Ministry of Science Technology and Innovation, Dato’ Dr Rosli Mohamed; Secretary General of Akademi  Sains Negara,  Academician Tan Sri Dr Salleh Mohd Nor; Director of National Antarctic Research Centre, Prof Dato’ Dr Azizan Abd Samah; Malaysian Ambassador to Chile, Mr Ganeson Sivagurunathan; Prof Dato’ Dr Aziz Deraman from UMT and Mr Mohd Nasaruddin Abd Rahman, CEO of Yayasan Penyelidikan Antartika Sultan Mizan (YPASM). I am informed that they got an invitation from Chilean National Antarctic Institute (INACH) for meeting on the collaboration between Malaysia and Chile. The delegates happened to visit King Sejong because they were invited by the Director of Korean Antarctic Research Program while on the flight coming to Antarctica.

It was something out of the blue for me when a friend called me and said “there’re several Malaysians in the common room”. So, I went there to meet them to have a chat. It was great to be able to talk to them in such an informal situation. King Sejong’s Station Leader also gave a short presentation on this station and their new Antarctic station, Jang Bogo, which will be opened by the end of February this year. After that he showed the Malaysian delegates the facilities and buildings around King Sejong station.  The delegates left after around 4 hours spending their time here.

The station leader, Dr Hur Songdo welcomes the Malaysians


A brief presentation from Dr Hur (the slides were in Korean though)


Datuk Seri Ahmad Said presenting a gift to the Korean Antarctic Research Program



So, that was a really good week for me. Now we only have 1 more sampling day for the final week. How satisfying.

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