I am norwegian doctor who worked as expedition doc on the Antarctic research station Troll for the summer season 2007-2008. NB: This blog is intended as a personal and ecological account from The Ice Planet - fully independent of the Norwegian Polar Institute, their official web page being: npweb.npolar.no

28 Dec 2007

For lack of proper scientists

In the evening hours, after work, I've had several hikes up Trollhaugen ("Troll Hill") at the back of the station. What I enjoy most on these walks is looking at the breeding snow petrels (they have eggs now!) with my binoculars. Sometimes big flocks of antarctic petrel soar overhead as well, but they never linger, always seeming to be going somewhere else - they might breed on some of the higher peaks in the Jutulsessen nunatak. The south polar skuas are also more active now - when not harassing and outright preying on the snow petrels, they enjoy taking baths and socialise in the meltwater pools. (See Geir's homepage for some awesome skua pictures - link on the right)
Sometimes I find treasures too. The quartzite rocks in the picture first looked as if they contained some sort of green mineral, but on closer examination with my hand lens the green stuff appeared as several interconnected and fragile threads, clinging to the surface of the stone.

Luckily , there's a simple microscope in my office. This was the first time I tried it, as there hasn't been any need for medical microbiological investigations here yet (surprise!).
Justifying my activities with the Quest For Knowledge, To Boldly Go.. etc etc, while really just nerding around, I collected some of the rocks in small specimen bags, scraped off some of the green stuff and stuck it on a microscope slide with a drop of water.

This picture was taken at 40x magnification, my small camera lens squeezed onto the ocular.

Alien lifeforms!
And that's about as far as I got with my diagnosis. The stuff is (again, surprise!) green, seems to be composed of single cells, some of them sticking together.

Discussion: It appears as if groups of single celled chlorophyll-containing organisms eke out a living on our neighbouring rocks. On previous expeditions, researchers have found green algae in water samples from our meltwater pools and the surrounding blue ice.
I haven't found any articles about algae on dry land here, though...

Until a biologist, or professor of latin, accidentally stumbles over this blog:

Chlorococcaceae Oysteinii

1 comment:

Monica said...

Genialt hehehehe :-)