Surrounded by ice and icy water stretching to each and every horizon, it’s easy to value the elegance of the Southern Ocean. I was a lot more shocked by this frigid sea’s fecundity and its similarities in some ways to Santa Barbara waters.
Having the Polar Plunge into frigid 31-degree Southern Ocean waters. (Courtesy photo)
Who would guess that you’d find our same species of giant and bull kelp in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic waters? Kelp features likewise in both equally locations: offering food, habitat for fish and crustaceans, and tamping the swell reaching the shores.
Krill are present in each seas. The Southern Ocean krill feed voraciously on the algae expanding on the underside of shelf ice, feeding whales, seals, penguins, albatrosses, and invertebrates. Alarmingly, this keystone species’ populace is down 80% in the previous 50 several years.
Algae munch on ice
Significantly less ice, significantly less algae, considerably less krill.
Whales go hungry.
The Antarctic waters have the goodies connected with ice. Penguins are ubiquitous. We spent several hours observing the antics of Adelie, macaroni, Magellan, rockhopper, king, and chinstrap penguins.
The expedition’s two divers snapped shots of bizarre-on the lookout ice fish. The only loved ones of vertebrates known that have no purple blood cells, ice fish have white hearts and translucent blood that includes a vital anti-freeze.
Other exclusive properties of the Southern Ocean waters contrast with the Pacific. The Southern Ocean is less salty mainly because salt precipitates out as the sea freezes, sinking to the base. The water temperature is underneath freezing because saltwater freezes at a reduce temperature than refreshing.
The most sizeable sea element is the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), a powerful undercurrent flowing clockwise around the overall continent. This present-day defines the boundary concerning the Southern Ocean and the 3 other oceans it touches (Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian).
The ACC, which is set in motion by the annual cycle of sea ice development and melting all over Antarctica, is one particular of the defining rhythms of our world, according to Down to Earth. It functions in some methods like a fence and may perhaps be a variable in the absence — so much — of nurdles, those people very small plastic particles polluting the world’s other oceans.
The result of local weather change the ACC is a concern for researchers, and hence all of us.
Our Countrywide Geographic expedition was described not as a cruise but an expedition, in which each day’s specific landings and adventures ended up fluid. Our days started with an up to date itinerary centered on weather and sea ailments. We ended up subject to demanding biosecurity protocols concerning cleansing our boots in between islands and staying absent from wildlife (unless they approached us).
Yoga and smoothies
Lecture on albatrosses
A day at sea.
There had been trials. I experienced some fears about the h2o: titanic swells and icy temperatures. I dreaded the Drake Passage in which the Antarctic Circumpolar Recent is squeezed between the Antarctic Peninsula and Argentina/Chile.
This passage is typically described as the roughest sea in the world. Tens of hundreds of sailors are thought to have drowned in many hundreds of shipwrecks over the centuries.
I did not panic sinking but alternatively sea illness. Even for my typical excursions to the Channel Islands, I’d be miserable without the need of motion-sickness medication. The good news is, I did well with Scopolamine patches in addition nausea products for the open up ocean passages.
I also built peace with the ice drinking water. I opted into the Polar Plunge, inspite of my preference for a calendar year-round wetsuit in Santa Barbara. Two thirds of our team jumped into the 31-degree h2o beneath the Antarctic Circle. I really do not have a good solution for “Why would you do that?”
We ended up awarded Polar Plunge patches for our orange polar jackets, furthermore sizzling spiked cider in the ship’s base camp upon return. I was happy to comprehend I still experienced an adventurous aspect.
Shivering bare limbed
I leap into icy sea
Polar plunge reached.
The crew photographed the shock and awe of every single guest vaulting into icy h2o. What I’d have desired recorded would be my velocity scrambling back again to the area and hauling up to the system. Let us just say, the hungriest leopard seal could not have caught me.
Browse my previous column about Antarctica right here.
— Karen Telleen-Lawton serves seniors and pre-seniors as the principal of Decisive Path Cost-Only Economical Advisory in Santa Barbara. You can arrive at her with your economic preparing questions at [email protected]. Click on right here to study previous columns. The views expressed are her possess.