Into the sampling, Saturday the 14th! What I had spent the last year preparing for had finally come, we were on Bratina Island with the primary purpose of collecting samples for my PhD (thanks again to Antarctica New Zealand and the University of Waikato for funding this project!). The first thing we had to do was lug the equipment to the first site, Legin pond and although this was only about 1km away the terrain was not exactly easy! Imagine a dusty quarry, nothing but hills and in sub zero temperatures, then add in making your way across 2 tide cracks in 50m thick ice (see picture below) definitely a great experience. Although the tide crack did present a risk we had already discussed them, knew where they were and knew to be careful of them.
So once the gear was in place it was time to set the sampling rig up, this was not as smooth as hoped and we had to make a couple of trips back to the huts to pick up some forgotten equipment. But we set up and sampled the legin water column with only minor troubles right down to the bottom successfully and yeilded good samples from it (we collected biomass and water samples for geochemical analysis along with sediment core samples for further analysis). After legin was sampled we cleaned the rig and moved to the next site for the following day, salt pond.
The 3rd day was a roaring success after working our the glitches with legin pond we sampled Salt (picture below) before lunch and moved on to its neighbour Brack immediately. Then luchtime follwed by Fresh pond and moving the gear about 500m to Pond P70E, a real small pond approximately 4.5m across but yeilding our best results so far with a fairly significantly stratified water column (which is what we were looking for (stratified water column meaning that its geochemical properties change as you move down the water column as opposed to being uniform throughout)).
At the end of day 3 we were knackered but extremely pleased with the progress we made that day (mainly due to moderate temperatures, a nice low wind and amazing group dynamics. It was apparent at this point that providing weather held out, we would be leaving Bratina Island with all our samples ahead of time, so being the good scientist I am I thought up another days work! But before then we still had one last pond to sample which would prove to be our most intresting pond yet!