Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2015!

We had a great New Year's Eve. Our day began by visiting Leonie Island, which was our final sampling site. It's a very lush island, with a lot of healthy grass, moss, and algae. It provided great samples! In the picture below, you see the brown tufts of hairgrass, and the green carpets of moss and algae.
Two skuas at our sampling site on Leonie Island.
There are only two flowering plants in Antarctica, and they are both only found along the Peninsula. (Moss is a plant, but it's a bryophyte, not a flowering plant.) There's the hairgrass, which I've mentioned before. The second one is a pearlwort. We've sampled hairgrass from the other islands we've visited, but Leonie is the only place where we've found pearlwort this far south. We found the pearlwort, but not in large enough patches to be able to sample. (We don't sample if it mean we'd have to collect the entire plant, because that's too destructive to the environment.)
Antarctic pearlwort, Colobanthus quitensis
After a successful day of sampling in beautiful weather, we ended the day with a station celebration of the New Year. We had a BBQ down on the wharf, and ended the evening up on the hill where we rang in the New Year at midnight. Since we have 24 hours of daylight here, it was of course still light out at midnight. Here is the view from the hill at midnight. It was my first view of Antarctica in 2015!