Who is Cassandra Brooks?
Cassandra Brooks is a graduate student in Marine Science at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) in California. She has studied Antarctic marine resources for the last four years both at MLML and with the AMLR Program.
Cassandra Brooks first began studying Antarctic toothfish in 2004 as part of her Master’s thesis at MLML. Toothfish are large, deep-sea predatory fish found only in the ice-laden waters surrounding Antarctica. Biologists who were fascinated with their ability to live in these freezing waters were the first to study these fish. They discovered that Antarctic toothfish have special proteins in their bodies that act like anti-freeze, keeping their blood from freezing. This enables the fish to live in the icy waters off Antarctica, where many other animals perish in the cold. Cassandra’s work focuses on life history and population structure of toothfish; more information is available on her PhD thesis abstract website. Her goal is to provide information on their age, growth and spatial distribution to the toothfish’s managing body (CCAMLR) in order to facilitate sustainable management of this large Antarctic species.
And the adventure begins…. by Cassandra Brooks
On February 11th, 2008, I will join the AMLR scientists in Punta Arenas, the southernmost town in Chile. We will then depart on a charted research vessel for the South Shetland Islands off the Antarctic Peninsula for a 32-day cruise. While at sea, we collect environmental, oceanographic, primary productivity and prey (zooplankton abundance and distribution, primarily krill) data from the waters surrounding the South Shetland Islands. Concurrently, AMLR researchers collect predator (seal and seabird) data at two field stations on the South Shetland Islands. This cruise is actually the second cruise of the season. Many of the scientists have been at sea since mid-January and will continue on for this second leg.
Antarctica is famous for having the most treacherous seas on earth, and those on board the vessel are getting hammered with bad weather. Not only does this make being at sea uncomfortable, but also, rough waters cause all sorts of sampling problems. In the last month, the scientific team has lost valuable and expensive gear, but not to worry, as I am bringing more down south with me. I am hoping the weather turns favorable when the second leg is underway. However, the season will be turning from Austral summer to the fall, with temperatures dropping and stormy seas rising. This, of course, is all pars for the course when working in Antarctica, and is what makes the Southern Ocean such an exciting environment to work in. Every year is a new adventure and one I look forward to sharing with you!
Cassandra's blogs are posted on "Ice Stories: dispatches from polar scientists", a website sponsored by the San Francisco Exploratorium. You can read her blogs here.