Dr. Kocot and his team are currently on board the RVIB Nathaniel B. Palmer and underway to study the biodiversity of deep sea invertebrates in waters off Antarctica. Typically Antarctic research expeditions are executed from Chile, New Zealand, or Tasmania, Australia, but the COVID-19 pandemic made this a difficult year for the National Science Foundation, the United States Antarctic Program, and researchers to execute Antarctic research. Instead of flying to a port in the southern hemisphere and taking a ship from there, NSF and USAP went to great lengths to ensure the safety of Antarctic research. On September 20th, the team flew to San Francisco and quarantined in a hotel for several days followed by testing for COVID-19 (which were all negative!). The team then boarded the ship and quarantined for another two weeks at port with two additional COVID-19 tests during this time. Fortunately, everyone tested negative and, on October 8th, the ship began its long transit south to Punta Arenas, Chile where they will arrive on November 2nd. After being equipped with scientific equipment (loaded by crane without anyone getting off the ship and risking breaking quarantine), the ship will finally head to Antarctic waters
Once in the Antarctic, Dr. Kocot and his students and colleagues will sample deep-sea marine invertebrates to improve understanding of the biodiversity and evolutionary history of the biota of this remote and difficult-to-study part of the world. Learn more about the expedition by reading coverage at UA News and follow the shipboard blog by visiting www.icyinverts.com.