The project lead, Prof Kristin O’Brien is trying to determine whether mitochondria limit an animal’s thermal tolerance. Mitochondrial respiration rates are being measured from preparations of cardiac and skeletal muscle of notothenioid fishes that differ in haemoglobin and myoglobin expression, held at either ambient temperature, exposed to their critical thermal maximum, or acclimated at 4oC to gain insight into possible consequences of global warming. Mitochondrial samples will also be shipped to Alaska for identifying oxidised proteins, and quantifying levels of oxidative damage to membrane phospholipids. Hopefully, the physiology results will tie in with these cellular mesurements…
The last fishing trip started well in Dallman Bay (named after Eduard Dallmann, leader of the German 1873-74 expedition), with a record catch of icefish in one trawl, but that didn’t last long before bad weather hit; rough seas started to deposit the 2 ton nets on the deck rather than wait for us to winch it safely, so we had to run for shelter in the lee of some islands. We moved onto baited pots to catch the red-blooded coriiceps, but the rough weather had sent fish scurrying for shelter so we caught very few. We then went for a deeper water species and wrecked a net when we caught a load of rocks, one of which took 3 men to dump it overboard, which didn’t do the fish any good at all. I think this is why wise men talk about ‘going fishing’ rather than ‘catching fish’! Ah well, the remaining animals were safely delivered ashore, there is time for one last fishing trip before we wrap up the program, and still plenty to be getting on with.
Some have asked to see my temporary home, so I have uploaded a video of the base and its surroundings as we were returning from the fishing trip at https://youtu.be/QaKCubO2-eI. The advantage of cutting short the trip was that we returned at dawn through the Neumayer Channel (named after Georg Balthazar von Neumayer, 1826–1909, a German polar explorer who promoted international scientific cooperation) separating Anvers Island from Wiencke Island – one of the most stunning places I’ve ever visited.
The winter weather has started to bite, and days are getting noticeably shorter (sunrise at 11, sunset at 3:30) so the last of the Giant Petrels have now fledged, and left us with just a few seals and Antarctic terns for company. Storms bring other visitors, though, like this impressive iceberg grounded close by.