• antarctica

    A walking safari in the Antarctic

    After a few tiresome weeks of intense lab activities at the Dallmann Laboratory and occasional field excursions in Potter Cove  on King George Island, my work in Jubany (nowadays known as Carlini Station) finally came to an end. This was November 2007. Antarctic Summer. And just as on all my other expeditions, it’s only at the end that I realized I had been working all the time and I had simply forgotten to enjoy my stay in this extraordinary setting. On the other hand, even the life in and around the station was pretty amazing and exciting. First of all, there were the magnificent views of the glacier, the bay, the Tres Hermanos mountain and…

  • antarctica

    An unexpected layover in the Antarctic.

    October 2007. I was on my way to Antarctica for the second time in 2 years. Not by ship this time, but with a Hercules plane, straight from Buenos Aires. Our destination was Jubany, an Argentinian military base / research station where I was going to perform a number of experiments to study the impact of global warming on marine fauna. We were supposed to go to Marambio first: a quick stop to pick up a few people they told us. Marambio is another Argentinian military base and not really a stop in between BA and Jubany, since it is located much more to the south, deeper into the Antarctic territory. And…

  • antarctica,  Chile,  South America

    Antarctica (7): Recovering in Chile.

    In November 2006, I left Cape Town in South Africa and went on board of the Research Vessel Polarstern. This was the moment I departed on an incredible journey to the Antarctic, which brought me face to face with emperor penguins and took me to open waters that had been ice-covered for thousands of years until 2002. As a marine biologist, it was my duty to take samples of the Antarctic sea floor and its inhabitants, which was hard work but very rewarding as well. Truly a unique opportunity, and one I will never forget. But finally, sampling activities came to an end and we set sail again towards civilization. We did not…

  • antarctica

    Antarctica (6): unknown territories…

    Global climate change is a man-made hazard that affects us all. Nowhere is its impact so far-reaching as it is at both the South and North Pole. There are many negative effects, but large-scale melting of ice sheets and a subsequent rise in sea water level are the most conspicuous. In Antarctica, especially the Antarctic Peninsula is influenced by an increase in temperature, resulting in large-scale ice shelf collapses. Major ice shelf destruction occurred e.g. in 1995 (Larsen A ice shelf) and 2002 (Larsen B ice shelf). The Larsen B area, originally a region fully covered by sea ice, completely collapsed between January and March of 2002. It only took 1 month to destroy this 10000-year old, 220m…

  • antarctica

    Antarctica (5): The Antarctic Peninsula and finally some sampling!

    In our previous blog post about this 2016-2017 Antarctic research expedition on the German RV Polarstern, we were stranded in the ice near Neumayer Station II, at the eastern side of the Weddell Sea. After delivering some important provisions to the residents of the base, we could finally leave the area and navigated towards the Antarctic Peninsula in the west. This is where all the main research activities were planned: observations of whales and other large marine mammals, sea bottom imaging with an ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle), releasing and retrieving fish traps for trophic (feeding) analysis and sampling of benthic (bottom) fauna. Our main goal was to reach the Larsen B area, originally a region…

  • antarctica

    Antarctica (4): on the ice!

    I am a lucky man, in more than one sense, and I love the life I’m living. I am so lucky that I can live it with my fantastic wife and daughter and travel the world with them. Travel has given us so much joy and long-lasting memories. However, I must admit I personally have also been given quite a few unique travel opportunities in the past. I used to work as a marine biologist at Ghent University (Belgium). When I started working at the Marine Biology research group, I somehow managed to find one of the most exotic subjects for my master’s thesis and PhD: coral reefs, both in cold-water and tropical…

  • antarctica

    Antarctica (3): reaching the ice and Neumayer station

    These blog posts on my Antarctic trip have encouraged me to read my travel diary from 2006-2007 again. It brings back a lot of nice memories. I indicated that Friday 1st of December 2006 was one of the most wonderful days of the expedition: “I went out at 9 a.m., and what a spectacle: everywhere I looked there were icebergs and smaller pieces of ice floating by. Later this day we passed through larger stretches of ice, although still fragmented. (…) If we hit a big iceberg you can feel and hear it throughout the entire ship. We saw a lot of Antarctic petrels and the beautiful snow petrels, which…

  • antarctica

    Antarctica (2): crossing the Antarctic Convergence

    “After a few days on board, I wrote in my diary: “Finally some excitement. The weather has seriously deteriorated (now 8 Beaufort), and that leads to some hilarious situations! Washing yourself in the shower of your cabin has become very impractical and during lunch I almost fell down with my chair and everything after a seriously heavy shock… Fortunately, I could just hold on to my cabin mate in time. Miraculously, I am still not sea-sick, although most of the others are at this moment…” As a marine biologist on a ship with 80 other scientist, you have to wait a long time until it’s your moment to take samples…

  • africa,  antarctica,  capetown,  citytrip,  south africa

    Antarctica (1): getting there

    “Here I am, at the Big Blue Backpackers Hotel, in my little room. Alone. But it’s quiet here and I’m relieved: the journey went smoothly except for the 1-hour customs delay at Cape Town International. Because I’m going to the South Pole for 2.5 months, I cannot afford to loose any luggage at this time!” This is how the diary I wrote during my first Antarctica Expedition starts. I used to be a marine biologist, working on seaworms (nematodes) from the deep sea and coral reefs. In my last years as a scientist (I’m a teacher now), I worked on a project (BIANZO II) dealing with the poles and global…

  • europe,  MR,  Norway,  Svalbard

    Visions of Svalbard: landscapes and wildlife around Ny-Ålesund.

    This is the final blogpost in our “polar” series, dedicated to those days when Maarten (who is writing this) was sent to the arctic and antarctic in order to research the marine fauna there. Until now, I have written about my experiences in Antarctica. This blogpost is the only one about my stay on the island of Spitsbergen (in 2007). Since I basically stayed in one location (the Ny-Ålesund research village) and only left this place on two (short) occasions, I really can’t say I have seen a lot of the island. Spitsbergen is the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago (the other two islands are Edgeøya and Nordaustlandet). Halfway between mainland Norway and…