Report of Activities on the RVIB N.B. Palmer Cruise 02-02

30 April 2002


The vistas from inside George VI sound are supposed to be grand with the ice shelves and mountains surrounding the sound on three sides, but on 30 April, the first light of day was a sliver on the northern horizon and a thick cloud layer was over head. The clouds stayed the day, shrouding the mountain peaks.  Only the slopes of some of the western peninsula mountains to the east were showing.  To the west, the clouds lay down nearly to the sea surface, so that the mountains Alexander Islands were again hidden from view. Occasionally, snow showers reduced the visibility significantly. For a second day, the Palmer was surrounded by thick tightly pressed pack ice with a deep coating of snow as it steamed from station 56 to 57 and then 58.


The weather remained quite calm.  Wind speeds for most of the day were in the 7-10 kt range, out of the south southeast (153). The barometer held steady around 986 mlb, and the air temperature varied within narrow limits about -2.0ºC.


The work at the two stations included 2 CTDs, an ice collection at station 57, and an ROV under ice survey at station 58.  A 1-m MOCNESS tow was taken some distance from 57 when ice conditions had become suitable for towing. This tow was originally scheduled for station 56, moved to 57, and then delayed again because of the pack ice was too thick to permit towing.  The towyoing of BIOMAPER-II between these stations was also abbreviated because of the pack ice, but some portion of all of the transect lines was sampled. Seabirds and marine mammals were surveyed during daylight periods when the visibility permitted.  One sonobuoy was deployed.


During the evening, the L.M. Gould was working in the vicinity of survey grid station 58 and a rendezvous was arranged to allow for an exchange of scientific supplies and equipment after the Palmer completed the station work. This included spare nets for the Palmer’s MOCNESS, live animals freshly caught by the Gould for experimental work by Dezhang Chu on the Palmer, some preserving fluid in short supply on the Palmer, and a replacement monitor for the Gould’s scintillation counter.  In addition, with the two ships positioned bow to stern, the Palmer’s personnel carrier and crane on the bow was used to transport several individuals to the Gould, so that an exchange of information could take place regarding what had been learned by the two groups thus far and what plans there were for cooperative efforts during the second portion of the cruise. The two ships parted ways around 2300 when the Palmer began the transit to survey station 59.


CTD Group report (John Klinck, Tim Boyer, Chris Mackay, Julian Ashford, Andres Sepulveda, Kristin Cobb)

The CTD group did two casts on 30 April at stations in southern Marguerite Bay. Due to ice, both stations were about 5 nm east of the planned location. Both stations had minimal surface layers that were at the freezing point. Deep temperatures were cold, but station 58 showed a hint of oceanic water (a little warmer and saltier) that was deep in the Trough.


Station 57 (cast 61, 512 m). The surface layer extended to 40 m with gradually increasing density (-1.8ºC, 33.1 psu, 0.15 ug/l chlorophyll) A second uniform temperature layer (Winter Water?) extended from 50 to 100 m.  Several 10 m thick layers appeared in the pycnocline to 200 m.  The deep water was 1.3ºC with no temperature maximum.  At the bottom, chlorophyll increased slightly (to 0.05 ug/l).


Station 58 (cast 62, 1287 m). The surface layer was thin (20 m, -1.8ºC, 33.1 psu, 0.15 ug/l chlorophyll).  Temperature and salinity increased from 20 m to 250 m with the same slope. One big temperature reversal occurred at about 60 m. Some property jumps and layers occurred throughout the pycnocline. A temperature maximum occurred at 400 m (1.4ºC) and the temperature below 1000 m was warmer and saltier by 0.1ºC and 0.02 psu, respectively.


Marine Mammal report (Debra Glasgow)

The marine mammal survey began at 1053 on 30 April in 10/10 close pack ice, which continued all day. Twenty-one seals were counted in the afternoon. These were 6 Weddell, 6 Crabeater, and 9 unidentified seals (too far away to identify). At 1452, a group of orcas was seen in the ice bearing 010 to starboard, 3.5 n miles away. A group of 4-6 whales surfaced, their dorsal fins obvious in the ice though they were so far away. One dorsal fin was obviously male, the others were either juvenile or female. One whale was seen spyhopping alongside the others. There was open water approximately 7 n miles to starboard at the time and several seals were visible lying on ice floes nearby. I saw these whales only once, and first saw them through my binoculars while scanning. This was the only cetacean sighting for the day. Survey ended at 1605, as we stopped at Station 58 with the Gould visible on the horizon.


Marine Mammal passive listening report (Ana Sirovic)

Nine sonobuyos were deployed over this period, 1 Difar and 8 omnis.  Two of the sonobuoys failed shortly upon deployment, one most likely due to heavy ice.  Blue whale calls were heard on 2 of those buoys—the ones deployed on the 25th and 26th as we were working our way offshore on transect line 6.  Both of these sets of calls were fairly loud and clear.  A humpback song was heard on 1 sonobuoy deployed on April 28th after leaving station 53.  Whales were sighted while the station work was ongoing, but they weren't positively identified (see Glasgow report for April 28). Deployments on the 29th and 30th were rare because during those days, the Palmer was going through heavy ice, which negatively affects the success of the deployments.  One sonobuoy was deployed after Deb sighted a group of killer whales a few miles away from the ship on the 30th.  No biological noises were heard on that deployment.  On the 29th, I went up on the science mast with ET Romeo Laviviere to work on the Sinclair antenna, hoping to improve its reception.  The reception of the Yagi antenna has been ok on this cruise (up to 15 nm), but the Sinclair reception has been worse than poor.  We're hoping this work will improve that reception.


Sea Birds (Erik Chapman and Matthew Becker)

The seabird survey continued within the sea ice in George VI Sound between stations 57 and 58 on 30 April.  Ice and snow coverage in the early morning was the heaviest of the survey, with depths of 4 meters and one meter respectively.  In late afternoon, the survey took us within about 5 nautical miles of the ice edge and there was a visible swell running through the pack out of the north.  As a result, floes were more loosely packed with open water and slush between them, a contrast to what exited further into George VI Sound yesterday.  Surveys for birds were conducted throughout the day as the Palmer traveled about 4 knots through the ice.  We also surveyed during a MOCNESS tow; however, due to the slower ship speed at this time, the requirements of standard seabird survey methodology were not met, and thus the collected data will only be used qualitatively.


The MOCNESS tow captured adult krill in the top 100 m of the water column, and once again we saw ice-associated Adélie Penguins and Snow Petrels in the pack, though at slightly lower densities than were found yesterday.  The Snow Petrels appeared to be foraging in the area and may have been feeding in small openings in the ice between floes.  Adélies were seen all within a short period of time, about an hour and a half into the survey and were likely feeding on the krill swarms similar to those sampled during the MOCNESS tow.  Once again, we didn’t see large numbers of Adélies, rather they were sparsely distributed and patchy throughout the pack ice.  These observations are consistent with those of the previous two SO GLOBEC cruises.


We will try to take observations tonight using night vision goggles as we leave station 58, which should take us out of the ice and into open water within a few miles.  Predators, including flying birds and penguins, have been found to concentrate along some ice edges and it will be interesting to see if we observe this phenomenon tonight.


A summary of the species and number of individuals of birds and seals within the 600 m transect (the quadrant between 600 m off the bow to 600 m off the port beam) during 5 hours, 27 minutes of daytime surveys between consecutive stations 57 and 58 is the following:


Species (common name)

Species (scientific name)

Number observed

Snow Petrel                   

Pagodroma nivea                         


Adélie Penguin              

Pygoscelis adeliae                     


Kelp Gull                      

Larus dominicanus                       




Water Sampling for Microzooplankton (Phil Alatalo)

Despite storms along the shelf and ice in Marguerite Bay, Mesodinium has been present in all the surface samples of survey line 5. Offshore Station 23 showed Mesodinium as deep as 200 m, whereas it was found from the surface to only 50 m at all other stations. Corethron and other large diatoms were prevalent at Station 23 and persisted along the transect.  Smaller diatoms and other particles were common inshore at Stations 34, 35, 36, and 37.  Copepodites (Oithonid and Calanoid) were seen in the mixed layer at shelf stations 24 and 25. A diverse assemblage of diatoms, oligotrich ciliates, tintinnid ciliates, and flagellates were present along the shelf into the inner reaches of the bay. In general, motile plankters were more common in surface waters at Stations 27 through 37, with few or no motile organisms at depth.  Many, very fine particles were characteristic of the inner Bay, even in deepest depths of Stations 34 and 35.  These particles may be food for the numerous microzooplankters present in the upper waters in Marguerite Bay.


Survey line 6 of NBP0202 started out in good weather and brash ice in Marguerite Bay and ended with building seas offshore.  Microplankton collected from the CTD bottles showed a steady decrease in average particle abundance from the Bay over the shelf to deep water.  Mesodinium continued to be present in the surface mixed layer everywhere except at offshore Station 46, where little except Corethron and other large diatoms were present.  Oligotrich ciliates were common inshore and along the shelf in the surface and thermocline layers. Very fine particles dominated the bottom depths at Stations 37 and 38.  Overall motility of microplankton decreased with depth across all stations.


ROV Under-Ice Investigations (Andrew Girard, Amy Kukulya, Gaelin Rosenwaks, Philip Alatalo)

The Sea-Rover ROV equipped with a stereo camera VPR system is yet another platform used by researchers in the Southern Ocean GLOBEC program to discern the whereabouts of krill.  This system is used primarily for investigating the underside of ice for krill and other organisms which utilize this important habitat.  The ROV-VPR utilizes a SBE37 CTD to measure depth, temperature, and conductivity, a DVL Navigator 1200 kHz ADCP, to measure current speed and direction, and an Imagenex 630 kHz-1Mhz scanning sonar to navigate.  A pan and tilt video camera allows forward visual orientation for the operator.  Two video cameras linked to a strobe are placed along a 1 ½ m long mount, allowing stereoscopic filming of roughly a 1 cubic meter section of the water column or ice surface.


ROV-01 was deployed on 29 April at 2100 at Station 56.  Ice conditions were less than optimal due to ice thickness.  This inhibited the ship's ability to maneuver as well as the ROV.  Much of the piloting was done in brash ice, chopped up by the ship's propellers.  New improvements for the ROV systems include a shorter light bar, allowing easier removal from the Baltic Room hangar and a longer cable (160 m) allowing deployment from the stern.  To minimize snagging, a polypropylene web jacket surrounded the cables for a length of 35 m back from the vehicle.  Launch was accomplished using the aft crane and a new stainless steel pull pin.  Recovery was achieved using a Kevlar sling attached to a snatch-hook on extension pole.  Vertical trim of the ROV was maintained using the upward thruster; neutral buoyancy of the extra cables is controlled by varying the number of trawl and syntactic floats.  Modifications of the buoyancy will be made in future deployments to optimize maneuverability by the operator.


Investigation of the underside of ice was as expected: large, rounded chunks and slabs of ice in pieces of less than 1 to several cubic meters.  The ice surface was smooth and no diatoms were present underside.  Two large ice/snow banks 20-30 m to starboard were examined.  Ice conditions were similar to brash, except the depth of one bank was 12 meters! No organisms were seen on this first trial.


Zooplankton (MOCNESS/BIOMAPER-II) report (Carin Ashjian, Peter Wiebe)

MOCNESS #15 was conducted in George VI Sound between stations 57 and 58 during mid-day.  Although ice cover was extensive, we had no trouble conducting the tow.  Less wire was let out than the total bottom depth, so there was no risk of putting the net on the bottom should the ship be forced to stop.  After the maximum wire had been extended, the ship was slowed to less than 1 knot, so that  the net fell further through the water column, sampling greater depths than possible at the normal 1.8 -2 knot towing speed.  The net sampled to 378 m in a water column of 530 m.


Copepods were abundant from 100-378 m and near the surface.  Biomass in the surface net was very low.  Krill were seen at all depths above 300 m.  No furcilia were observed.  Ctenophores were seen from 25-100 m. Amphipods were observed at mid depths (100-200 m).  Ostracods were collected in the 100-150 m depth range.  A salp was collected in the 200-300 m depth interval.


The thick pack ice and heavy snow pack on top made it difficult for the Palmer to make quite a portion of the 17 mile transit from station 56 to 57 without stopping to back and ram, even though it was retracting the path taken on the station 55 to 56 line before heading west to station 57.  So BIOMAPER-II was not deployed on 30 April until nearly half-way to station 57. The towyo to station 57 was successful and intense scattering was observed, principally on the 120 kHz echogram, close to the surface. Well before reaching the location of station 57, the Palmer ran into pack ice that was again too massive to move through.  The towed body was recovered and the station made where the ship had stopped around 0730. Although most of the station 57 work was completed in late morning, BIOMAPER-II was kept on the deck while the Palmer steamed towards station 58, so that when the ship was able to move continuously through the ice pack, a MOCNESS tow could be taken. Following the net tow, BIOMAPER-II was deployed and then towyoed for the last two hours of the steam to station 58.  Again, the heaviest volume backscattering occurred near the surface.



Cheers, Peter