In early 2012, I had the great privilege of taking part in the centenary celebrations marking Douglas Mawson’s voyage to Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica. For the first few weeks aboard the Aurora Australis the focus centered on the historical significance of our voyage, while the last few weeks marked the major marine science campaign of the 2011/2012 season. For those of us that stayed on board during the centenary celebrations the focus quickly shifted to our feathered hosts; the Adelie penguins.
I worked under the excellent tutelage of Dr Donna Roberts from the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre (ACE CRC). As the ship steamed south we collected pteropods for microstructure and elemental analysis as part of ongoing research to monitor and characterize the effects of ocean acidification in the Southern Ocean. Once we set sail from the continent I volunteered with the CSRIO’s Carbon Cycle group, collecting water samples as part of the continuing effort to assess the oceanic uptake of atmospheric CO2.
This really was the trip of a lifetime, and one very hard to describe in words, so I shall try with pictures instead.