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Science Show -

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Robyn Williams: Today we go south, nearly as far south as you can get, on a ship going from Hobart
on a regular run. Current, climate, sea creatures and water samples. The mission is to make the
most of an extensive voyage in this Polar Year. So, if you're ready, off we go to meet our guide.

Margot Foster: I'm Margot Foster and I'm going up the gangway of the icebreaker the Aurora
Australis. There are 75 of us, including leading scientists and their students and a specialised
crew of 20. Today we sail for Antarctica.

Martin Riddle: Good morning everybody, I'm Martin Riddle, I'm the voyage leader for V3, the
Collaborative East Antarctic Marine Census. This, as you all know, is part of the International
Polar Year. It's a voyage that has about 54 scientists on board and it's part of an international
collaboration that will be happening all around Antarctica. Welcome to the Aurora Australis and I
look forward to getting to know you all over the next six weeks of the voyage.

We're heading down towards Commonwealth Bay and we'll be working in the area between the French
station at Dumont D'Urville and the Mertz glacier over to the east. We've got a big job ahead of
us, as you know, and I encourage you all to get settled in early, get your equipment sorted out,
get it tied down, we could be in for some rough weather...

Margot Foster: Tell me a little bit about your role as voyage leader.

Martin Riddle: I've got a number of roles on the ship. I'm voyage leader, so I set the overall
direction for the voyage. I'm the interface between the scientists and the ship, through the
captain. I'm also the representative of the Antarctic Division on this voyage, making sure that we
achieve what we've been set out to do. I'm also the chief scientist, so I have responsibilities not
just for the operational aspects of the voyage but also for the scientific aspects. And then on top
of that I also have an interest in some of the particular research projects as a research

Margot Foster: So tell me about some of the key objectives for Voyage 3.

Martin Riddle: Voyage 3 is part of an International Polar Year project, it's part of the census of
Antarctic marine life, and that is part of the overall global census of marine life. In this part
of the ocean we've got three ships coming in, and that's the CEAMARC collaboration, we've got the
Aurora Australis which is concentrating on the animals that live on the sea bed, the benthic
communities; the Umitaka Maru, the Japanese vessel is sampling the water column for the planktonic
species; and the L'Astrolabe is collecting the microscopic planktonic species.

The other side of it is the climate work that we'll be doing, the CASO, the Climate of the
Antarctica and Southern Ocean project. That's also an International Polar Year project and for that
we'll be taking water samples right the way from the sea surface to the sea bed, and from those
water samples they'll be able to analyse the structure of the water and to see how that changes as
we head south.

Margot Foster: And what's the significance of this work? Has it been done in this region before?

Martin Riddle: The whole of the East Antarctic area is really a black hole for biodiversity. We
really don't know what's there. It's probably the largest unexplored, undescribed area of
biodiversity on this planet. It's really exciting because these people haven't looked at the living
communities here before, so there are all sorts of possibilities for discovering new animals and
understanding the living systems here. That's fundamentally interesting as science but it's also
practically important. This area of the planet, the Southern Ocean, is one of the areas that is
most likely to be affected by global change quickly, particularly by increasing CO2 levels in the
atmosphere causing ocean acidification. We're likely to see those changes first in the Southern
Ocean, and if we don't go down now and find out what's there, we won't even know what we've lost.

Margot Foster: Our ship, the Aurora Australis, has just entered some loose pack ice, which means
we're close to the Antarctic continent off Commonwealth Bay, and this is the section of ocean we'll
be taking samples from during the journey.

I'm standing on E deck in the corridor with Sarah Robinson who's the deputy voyage leader. Tell me
what your role is.

Sarah Robinson: As deputy voyage leader I look after a lot of logistics work; cargo, permits for
quarantine, things like that. One of my roles on this voyage is also as lab manager.

Margot Foster: On the ship there's 54 scientists and they're all undertaking work while we're
travelling. So tell me how we're set up to cater for that.

Sarah Robinson: We have a number of labs on board here, some of which are temperature controlled
and others which are wet areas and things like that. For this, obviously everyone needs to share
and that's the big thing with the labs on this ship, everyone gets their own little bit of space
but you have to be very patient and corporative with the people around you as well.

Margot Foster: Sarah, let's do a little walk about and have a look at the facilities that make the
Aurora Australis a purpose-built science research vessel.

Sarah Robinson: Yes, so this is one of our wet labs, but it is known as 'the wet lab', and this is
where everything from the trawl gets brought in and sorted and cleaned.

Margot Foster: And it's right next to the trawl deck. In fact we can hear it.

Sarah Robinson: Yes, there's some people working on the winches by the sound of things, so we've
got two large island sinks in the middle here for washing off and sorting samples.

Margot Foster: And again, I will swear I've seen about 20 people working in here at a time.

Sarah Robinson: It's pretty incredible, the number of people who can be in here at once and work
around each other, it's very get used to literally doing a two-step with other people,
you get used to their movements as well as your own.

Margot Foster: That's right, because there's been a number of projects working concurrently. Of
course the French CEAMARC team takes up this part of the bench, but then Glen with the (Antarctic)
Division has been over here, and then we've had Bryan...

Sarah Robinson: ...with the venom, the venom people. Yes, they've got their own little bench space
over here as well. So they all work together in sorting the trawl together in one spot, and then
all those samples are then divvied up between the groups as to who needs what and then they all of
off and prepare them how they need to for their sampling. So we have space here for that wet
sampling work, we also have a fume cupboard with chemical storage, microscopes, scales for weighing
the fish, we have an autoclave over in the corner there...

Margot Foster: And tonnes of running water.

Sarah Robinson: Yes, that's right, lots of sinks, lots of water, it gets very wet in here very

Margot Foster: The first trawl has come up, and there are huge tubs of mud being ferried into the
wet lab. There's great excitement. It's an amazingly rich trawl. We're already seeing one
phenomenon of Antarctic biodiversity and that's gigantism. Sea spiders, sponges and isopods are
much bigger than anywhere else.

Catherine Ozouf-Costaz: My name is Catherine Ozouf-Costaz. I am the team leader of the CEAMARC
program and I am a research engineer at CNRS of Paris. I work mainly on fish, but I have been
working in Antarctica for many years, and I know rather well this fauna, so I can give a hand also
for sorting.

Margot Foster: So Catherine, how do you take a sample?

Catherine Ozouf-Costaz: We try to select different shapes because we don't know them sufficiently
to be sure of what we take. For instance, here you have red shapes and more grey ones that are
possibly dead, but it can also be something else which is alive, so we will do a good sampling and
try to choose young stages, older stages and not exclusively what is nice.

Margot Foster: Tell me, what do you do? You get your cross section that represents the sample, what
do you package it in?

Catherine Ozouf-Costaz: They are going to be separated in plastic bags and the plastic bags are put
in big drums that are filled up with ethanol. We control the degree, we measure it regularly to be
sure that it stays at the 70%, and then it will be sent by ship to France because at the Museum of
Paris we have people who are collection curators, and of course at the end of the process a
reference collection is going to be sent back to Australia for a Melbourne museum or for the
Antarctic Division collections. We don't know yet, but there will be a collection in Australia, of

Margot Foster: So exciting!

Researcher: Giant sea spiders. In the tropics these things are about the size of your thumbnail,
but in Antarctica they're the size of your hand.

Researcher: This one looks bigger!

Margot Foster: Wow, what's that?

Researchere: You see it's looking like a spider, and it's a very strange animal. It's a completely
separate group from the other. Generally studied by the same people studying the crustacea. But you
see the funny thing in this animal, they are only legs, not real body, only legs, and a junction of
legs. All the organs are in the legs, including the gonads. It's very strange.

Catherine Ozouf-Costaz: At the moment we will stop. We just want to have an idea of the
biodiversity, but if we repetitively find the same, we stop.

Margot Foster: And then everyone else will take their slice.

Sarah Robinson: Yes, that's right, it will be divvied up and...that's great, guys. People out the
back sieving madly, knee-deep in mud. But I'm very pleased, that's a fantastic first trawl.

Glen Johnstone: I'm Dr Glen Johnstone, I work at the Antarctic Division, and I'm down here more or
less assessing human impacts on the Antarctic marine environment.

Margot Foster: When I was out on the trawl deck there's a whole array of equipment out there, and
your focus was on what's called the box-core. Just describe it for me.

Glen Johnstone: It's a big steel box, it's about 24 centimetres by 24 centimetres wide and about 50
deep, and it sits on a big tripod. Basically it plunges down on a cable from the ship, smashes into
the bottom and digs in. Two jaws hinge shut when it hits, and we've got a sample of mud from the
bottom of the ocean.

Margot Foster: This is one of a number of types of trawls that are carried out, so just explain how
it works in terms of...we're stopping at what's called a station and everyone lines up and takes a

Glen Johnstone: That's right. We've got a number of different trawls and sampling regimes going on.
We were sampling mainly for benthic invertebrates, those critters that live on the bottom of the
ocean. So we're using the box-corer to sample those things that live in the mud. And we're also
using some of the trawls and we've got a variety of those trawls on board, and we're using those to
sample the epifauna, these things that live on the rocks and on the sediment at the bottom of the

Margot Foster: They all work differently, they are completely different designs and there are
completely different teams of people associated with each trawl. Just explain why what they're able
to do is different.

Glen Johnstone: Because of the design they target slightly different parts of the habitat that
we're trying to get at. And with one trawl we may miss something, so we've been using a series of
about three trawls up until now, and we've focused in on which of those we think is the best and
giving us the best results, so the broadest coverage of the organisms from the habitats that we're
trying to sample. Say the French beam trawl, that digs a little bit into the sediment so we get a
lot of sediment and you also get the fauna on top. The other trawls sit on the bottom and scrape
across the bottom, so they don't actually dig up the sediment, they get more just what's sitting on
the sediment, and each of those means different types of work. If we get the French beam trawl up
with lots of sediment, there's a lot of sieving involved before we can get at the organisms.

Margot Foster: You're obviously a devotee of the box-core. What are the particular characteristics
of that sample?

Glen Johnstone: Well, if we're lucky we've got a sediment profile of about 40 to 50 centimetres,
and we're sampling that to look at the stratigraphy of the bottom and the composition of the
sediment, and that's what Geosciences Australia are doing. And then we're sampling more or less the
top five to ten centimetres of that column to look at the small invertebrates that live in that
environment, and we use those...they're used very commonly in marine environment to monitor changes
in the environment and how humans impact on the environment.

Margot Foster: When each trawl comes up, Glen, there's a lot of people down here. In fact I think I
counted nearly a dozen people in this lab. How many people are interested in what comes out of each

Glen Johnstone: There's a bit of a combination. We're interested in the trawls as well as the
French team, who are the larger team. So we're all working in together to get different organisms
out of the trawls for different purposes for different studies. So for ourselves we've got about
four or five different studies that we're selecting organisms out of the trawls for. The French
team are mainly interested in doing a census of marine life, so they're trying to get as much as
possible, as much variety as possible out of those trawls, whereas we're a little more specific.
We've got particular target species and we're just going after those ones.

Margot Foster: Out on the deck, when you look at the contraptions out there, some of them look
pretty fundamental. In fact, they might well be farm equipment. What's the art of deploying the

Glen Johnstone: That's mainly out of our league and that's what's handled by all of the deck crew
here on the Aurora. They're specifically trained to get that overboard safely to make sure that it
works on the bottom but it also doesn't affect the ship and it comes back up safe and sound and
that we get the types of samples that we need. Some of those guys out there, such as Aaron out
there, he actually built the trawls themselves. So they've worked with us for a number of years and
they've seen the problems that we have with them and redesigned things to fit the environment that
we work in.

Margot Foster: And some of them are in fact quite sophisticated because they've got cameras and so
on attached to them. Maintaining the gear must be pretty well a fulltime occupation for some of the
people here.

Glen Johnstone: Yes, we've got a number of people on board whose role it is to ensure that the
equipment works when it goes overboard, and obviously to be able to fix it when it comes back a
little broken. You'll have noticed with the French beam trawl that's been going over, it's almost
always come back with a ripped net. That's just a consequence of the type of environment we're
sampling, so we've got Jean-Francois on board who's a French fisherman and he can sew that net back
up in-between trawls. So there's always the equipment maintenance personnel on board as well,
otherwise we'd do one trawl and we couldn't do another.

Margot Foster: Dr Glen Johnstone from the Antarctic Division. I'm Margot Foster aboard the Aurora
Australis for The Science Show.

The ship is operating like a factory, 24 hours a day, with the scientists, students and crew all on
12-hour shifts.

While teams of people are working on split shifts over in the wet lab, over here is oceanography,
and right next to oceanography is a little place called the CTD room, and I'm just going in there.
The CTD room houses a large frame with a whole lot of bottles around it and a range of equipment,
and the CTD is central to the work done by Steve Rintoul. So Steve, where are you based?

Steve Rintoul: I'm a physical oceanographer based at CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research in

Margot Foster: You'd better tell me what CTD stands for.

Steve Rintoul: CTD stands for Conductivity Temperature Depth, so conductivity...we actually measure
the electrical conductivity, but from that we derive the salinity or the saltiness of the seawater.

Margot Foster: Okay, it's a dedicated room for the facility. What does it allow for?

Steve Rintoul: There's a door that opens in the side of the ship and provides a trolley that we run
the instrument out on, and then the winch can lower the instrument from there at the end of this
door that's sticking out the side of the ship.

Margot Foster: And it also accommodates the instrument, which is pretty big.

Steve Rintoul: That's right. So the package includes 24 bottles to allow us to collect water from
different sample depths. Each one of those carries about 10 litres of water, so those around the
outside of the package makes it a pretty big set-up. Then the CTD itself is in the middle. It
measures temperature and the salinity and the depth continuously as we lower the instrument down to
the sea floor.

We're just opening the door now, so we can look out and see some little chunks of ice around but
there's enough open water to allow us to deploy the instrument. So the caps are off, the tubes are
disconnected and we're ready to get the instrument in the water. See that flashing blue light at
the bottom? That's the fluorometer, that's what's measuring how much phytoplankton is in the water.

You can also see two yellow cylinders, one at the bottom and one at the top, and those are
measuring the velocity of the water using sound pulses. So the instrument is just heading out the
door now, we can see a big ice floe just outside the door. One of the tricks of doing this work in
Antarctica is trying to make sure you can lower the instrument into water instead of onto the ice.

Margot Foster: And it's just gone down now. How deep is it going this time?

Steve Rintoul: To a little over 4,000 metres on this cast, so this will be one of the deepest casts
we do on this trip.

Margot Foster: Tell me what this part of the grid is set aside for. What formulated your decision
about casting in this part of the ocean in particular?

Steve Rintoul: In this part of the voyage we're repeating some stations that we've done in previous
years and in particular we're looking for changes in the ocean and more specifically changes in
something called Antarctic bottom water, which is water that sinks near the continent of Antarctica
and then spreads out from Antarctica along the bottom of the ocean and can be found in most of the
world oceans spreading away from Antarctica. We're looking for changes in this water mass because
it will tell us something about a global pattern or ocean currents called the overturning or
thermohaline circulation that has a big influence on climate.

Margot Foster: And how did you know where to pick? What are the features of the sea bed that make
you confident, I suppose, that this Antarctic bottom water is going to be found?

Steve Rintoul: We have done some work in this area before, and so we knew that there were two
locations nearby where this bottom water is produced. One is in the Ross Sea to our east and one is
in the Mertz Polynya area where we've been working for the last several weeks. So by making
measurements along this western transect and then some more stations we'll do a little later in the
east, we can isolate changes in the Ross Sea source versus changes in the Mertz source. That will
tell us something about how Antarctica is responding to climate change.

Margot Foster: So you're actually following a kind of a deep valley on the ocean floor.

Steve Rintoul: Yes, that's right. So this line of stations that we've just done had been running
out a canyon. It's really a remarkable feature on the sea floor. It's 1,000 or 2,000 metres deep,
it looks very much like something you might see on land, one of the big river systems, but this
canyon has been carved entirely below the ocean's surface by strong currents and by debris flows,
something called turbidites that actually can scour the sea floor and carve these canyons out of
the earth.

Margot Foster: And this is an interesting cast as well because it's carrying a curious cargo. Can
you tell me about the cup phenomenon?

Steve Rintoul: Yes. Down at 4,000 metres obviously the pressure is very high, and so it has become
a bit of a tradition for people to decorate styrofoam cups, we then attach them in a net bag to the
CTD and lower it down to 4,000 metres, and the cups are crushed by the pressure and become maybe
about a third to a quarter of their original size. So the drawings the people make on them shrink
and they look pretty good.

Margot Foster: Okay, well, I've got a cup in there, so I'll be keen to see how mine turns out. Have
you got one in there?

Steve Rintoul: I'll put mine in on the next cast.

Margot Foster: Thanks Steve.

So I'm going to go into the instrument room now where Esmee van Wijk is working with Steve.

Esmee, you're monitoring a number of screens. What's the interest in what happens during the

Esmee van Wijk: What we're getting in real time is data from the CTD as it's going through the
water. So we're getting information on temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen and fluorescence
with depth, so we can see exactly what the profile of the water column is and its hydrography. So,
on the screen we have a graph which shows depth and then we can see how the salinity and the
temperature and the dissolved oxygen change. We're looking for particular features in the water

Margot Foster: And this is the point when a lot of people come in and have a look at this
particular reading. What will help people make their decisions about where they take samples from?

Esmee van Wijk: I guess the oceanographers will be looking at these curves to find out things like
the temperature minimum. I guess we're interested in parts of the water column where the change is
quite steep, so we can sample more heavily over those areas where there's a gradient, so in the
surface of the water column the temperature is quite well mixed. So we look at where that changes
suddenly, which is called the thermocline; you get a very steep gradient. So we'll sample that
area. And then as you come down further into the deep ocean interior you might see small intrusions
of warm water which is known as circumpolar deep water. And right at the very bottom, say, at 3,500
or 4,000 metres depth you might see Antarctic bottom water, which is less than zero degrees. So
we're interested in those.

Margot Foster: And you're working a 12-hour shift, so how many CTD sample drops can be made?

Esmee van Wijk: At the moment I think we're averaging about two and a half, so it takes quite a
while for a CTD to go down all the way down to 4,000 metres. It goes down at roughly one metre a
second. So one drop up, down and then back up again is taking us maybe two-and-a-half hours. That
includes the sampling as well.

Margot Foster: Okay, I'll leave you to it.

Esmee van Wijk: Thank you.

Margot Foster: So who's got their hand up for a sample of water?

Researcher: We are looking at the chlorophyll max, the layer where the phytoplankton are most

Margot Foster: Harvey, what are you looking for?

Harvey Marchant: I'm going for the same level, that idea of concentrating up the critters there to
in fact see what the critters are that are contributing all this chlorophyll.

Margot Foster: What level are you going for?

Harvey Marchant: Twenty-five metres down. That's where most of the chlorophyll in the water column
is, but about ten times compared with the rest of the water column, and I expect to see a great
variety of single-celled phytoplankton, I expect to see diatoms and a whole lot of others as well,
and I reckon there are going to be some single-celled animals there as well.

Researcher: We're going to preserve the phytoplankton on a filter and take them back and sequence
the DNA that's there.

Researcher: I'm not sure yet. I wait until they pick what levels all the bottles will be at and I
select from those bottles, but probably a few from the deep layer and then where all the exciting
mixing is happening, get a few from there, and a few from the surface, just representative of the
whole profile.

Margot Foster: And what are you looking for, what are you measuring?

Researcher: CFCs in the water, like CFC 12, 11 and 13.

Researcher: Then there's the people that sample the salts and the nutrients and the dissolved
oxygen and that's probably Steve, and he'll sample every bottle just to get a representative

Margot Foster: Tell me, what have you lined up? You want bottles from this sample?

Researcher: Yes, I do. We're going for deep water and also on the surface layer, and then
in-between we'll space it out and try and catch where the mix layer finishes, so underneath the
productivity level that you saw over there with the fluorescence.

Margot Foster: Right. And it seems that there are disparate people from all sorts of areas of
research taking different samples, so it's a really valuable use of the energy getting the thing
out, isn't it.

Researcher: Exactly, yes, a lot of different groups interested in different things, having a look
at the same water, and then we can all come back afterwards and compare our results and help each
other out and put together a real story about what's happening here.

Steve Rintoul: CASO is a consortium of scientists from about 18 countries which are really
targeting all aspects of how the Southern Ocean influences climate. One of the main objects of the
voyage we've been on right now has been looking at what's happening over the continental shelf of
Antarctica, so the really high latitude part of the Southern Ocean. And the region we've been in is
particularly special because it's a region where bottom water forms. So a lot of out work was
focused on figuring out why this region is such an important source of this dense water, and also
how it might be changing in time. So to find out how it's changing in time we've gone back and
measured at the same locations where we've previously made measurements in the past, and just
simply looking for changes in the temperature, the salinity, the oxygen or the CFC concentrations.

We've really just started working up the data, but it already looks like there is a consistent
signal that the bottom water is changing. It's becoming fresher than it used to be, it's lower in
salinity, and the reason that's important is that for this water to sink from the surface down to
the sea floor (something that only happens in a handful of spots around the world ocean) the water
has to get salty enough to sink. If it gets too fresh it will be too light and won't be able to
sink through the water beneath it and reach the sea floor.

We know that in past climates (going back, for example, during the ice ages) there were times when
the surface waters did become so fresh in the polar regions that the sinking stopped, and the whole
global pattern of ocean currents changed in a way. So it's important that we monitor these high
latitude regions and see how this part of the global ocean circulation is changing with time.

Margot Foster: So how are you going to use the data that you've collected?

Steve Rintoul: We'll use the profiles of temperature and salinity to compare to earlier data and
then see how things are changing. It will also allow us to map the ocean currents on the shelf and
off the continental shelf, out in the deep water, and that will help us to determine's
still a bit of a mystery why this particular region is so important as a source of bottom water
because it doesn't really fit the model that we've developed over the past 20 or 30 years looking
at bottom water formation in other regions. So there's something special going on in this Mertz
Polynya region and the information that we've collected on this trip will help us to sort out
exactly what that is.

Margot Foster: Having a multidisciplinary approach, is that going to be strengthened by the
experience on Voyage 3, for instance?

Steve Rintoul: Yes, definitely, and that multidisciplinary collaboration is really critical for a
lot of the most important questions we're trying to answer. So, for example, we know that the
Southern Ocean plays an important part in the carbon dioxide cycle and both absorbing and releasing
carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. We've got some hints that the Southern Ocean is becoming less
effective at storing carbon dioxide than it used to be, and we need to understand whether that's
going to continue in the future or not. And also we know that as the Southern Ocean accumulates
carbon dioxide it's changing the acidity of the ocean, and that's going to have an impact on
ecosystems. So we really need to put the physics and the chemistry and the biology together and
integrate that, make all those measurements at the same time and the same places so that we can
sort out exactly what's going to happen, not just to the currents and the physical side of the
Southern Ocean but also to the chemistry and biology.

Sarah Robinson: The Aurora has some great facilities actually. We have a cool room here in front of
us, this is Lab 5.

Margot Foster: It's very small. It would be like stepping into a fridge. Let's go in.

Sarah Robinson: It is, it's very much like a fridge in the back of a shop, like a supermarket
fridge or something like that.

Margot Foster: And it's cold.

Sarah Robinson: It is. This one is, I think, at three degrees, and there's one user in here at the
moment. This is Harvey Marchant who is looking at protists and basically phytoplankton and things
under the microscope.

Harvey Marchant: You've come at a brilliant time.

Margot Foster: This is a bit cold in here, Harvey.

Harvey Marchant: It's meant to be cold. It's 2.5 degrees, that's why I'm rugged up in a freezer
suit and hat and I normally wear gloves. You can hear a vacuum pump in the background. I'll turn
that off. Slightly less noise. The rest of the noise is from the air conditioner in here making the
temperature nice and cool. The organisms that I'm looking at, the single-celled critters, come from
the sea where their temperature is around zero to -1, so that if I'm taking video footage or
looking at living critters, I want them to be close to the temperature they're used to as distinct
from the temperature that I'm normally used to.

Margot Foster: Tell me, where did you find these critters?

Harvey Marchant: I collected a bottle at 50 metres, which was the so-called chlorophyll maximum
where most of the micro-organisms are in the water, and another sample at 100 metres where there
was really a lot of stuff, and that's the stuff that's falling out to the deep sea to feed all of
the critters that live on the bottom, the filter feeders that are making some of the benthic
biologists very happy.

Margot Foster: What's it telling you though, Harvey? You've found life in these samples, is it
something that you're going to bank up and then come back and compare and see how that life is
being sustained, or are you painting a picture of where life exists?

Harvey Marchant: This is basically painting a picture of where life exists because sometimes you
get a lot of the organisms in the surface waters just basically living and dying there, and the
carbon that they're soaked out of the atmosphere they respire back to the atmosphere, and just
their little shells and not much nutrient makes it to the sea floor. But what we're looking at here
and we've seen in a couple of other sites, there is a lot of carbon being transported from the
surface waters to the deep water. This is where it can be out of circulation for hundreds of years,
even thousands of years.

Margot Foster: And what might change that circumstance?

Harvey Marchant: Oh a whole variety of things, particularly increased surface temperatures,
increased ice conditions, increased ultra violet light, all of these things change the species
composition of the single-celled critters. We recognise about 500 different species of
single-celled critters in the waters south of the polar front, and some of these stay near the
surface and some of them sink very readily to the sea floor. So it's a very good thing if there are
organisms predominantly that sink to the sea floor, but this varies depending on where you are
geographically and also time of the year. There's a seasonal story there too.

Margot Foster: And where are we in terms of finding answers to how the ocean is performing as a
carbon sink?

Harvey Marchant: Tricky question because we can assess that the Southern Ocean is one of the major
sinks for carbon dioxide on the planet and it takes up around 17% of the carbon dioxide produced by
human beings. There is some evidence that the rate of uptake is slowing, but this is early days. So
a lot of the work that's done on a ship, on a cruise such as this, is really just the first stage
of a process that results in scientific papers being produced, sometimes two or three years after
the event.

Margot Foster: All right, I'll back out, this is getting cold.

I'm going up the stairwell now, I'm going up to the bridge. The bridge is the best place to look
out from but it's also where everything happens.

Martin Riddle: What is your vessel name please?

Fishing boat captain: My ship name is In Sung 1...In Sung 1. Over.

Margot Foster: We've come across a fishing boat which requires us to interrupt our trawling program
and make contact. We have to establish whether or not it has approval to fish in these waters which
are governed by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, or CCAMLR

Martin Riddle: Captain, is your vessel ice strengthened? Over.

Fishing boat captain: No.

Martin Riddle: It is not ice strengthened? You have four lines deployed. Is that correct?

Fishing boat captain: That's correct.

Martin Riddle: Are they starboard side of your vessel, port side or aft of your vessel?

Fishing boat captain: Starboard side. Over.

Martin Riddle: What species of fish are you targeting?

Fishing boat captain: Fishing is toothfish...toothfish. Over.

Martin Riddle: Toothfish. Captain, have you heard of the Commission for the Conservation of
Antarctic Marine Living Resources, CCAMLR?

Fishing boat captain: Yes.

Martin Riddle: And your nationality is South Korean? Please confirm.

Fishing boat captain: South Korea, South Korea.

Martin Riddle: Thank you. So the Republic of Korea is a CCAMLR member. Okay, when I inform them
that its position will be reported, that's really what we have to do...

Captain, I understand that you send data to CCAMLR. Is that correct?

Fishing boat captain: That's correct.

Martin Riddle: Thank you very much for that. I am required to report your position to your national
authorities, to the Australian national authority and to CCAMLR, to the Commission for the
Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.

Fishing boat captain: Yes.

Martin Riddle: Thank you, I understand that you are working within the CCAMLR convention, yes.

Fishing boat captain: Thank you.

Martin Riddle: We will continue with our research mission. Thank you.

Fishing boat captain: Thank you.

Margot Foster: The In Sung 1 is pretty small compared to us at nearly 100 metres long, and we have
the advantage of being built for the ice. The master of the Aurora Australis, Captain Ian Moodie.

Ian Moodie: Yes, it's a purpose-built icebreaker. The bough, for example, the steel plating on the
hull is one-inch thick. The reinforcing is at 300 millimetre intervals, which is very heavy. That
also applies aft near the propeller and the rudder. And down the side of the ship for a two-metre
depth from above and below the water (that's called the ice belt) that is 19 millimetres thick. So
we can bash into ice, we can break ice at two metres thick relatively easily.

Margot Foster: You can't be all things for all conditions though, so what sort of ride do you get
through the stormy Southern Ocean in a ship made for the ice?

Ian Moodie: Very often very rough. We can roll as much as 40, 45 degrees either way at times when
it's really rough. The most I've seen is probably about 16, 17-metre swell, or waves. And it gets
pretty rough at times, but other times, like today, it's actually quite good and we've only got a
three or four-metre swell and we're making 14 knots, no bother. Sometime we're right down to
perhaps two knots because of the weather.

Margot Foster: I'm out on the helideck and the rumour is that there's a spa being set up by Aaron,
so I'm going past Mark's container, and too right! We've got Edi the doctor, Helena the student and
Jules from the Melbourne Aquarium taking the hot tub.

What's heating it?

See that metal thing there is a heat exchanger. The waste steam from the boiler runs through one
side of the heat exchanger, sea water is running through...we've got the opposite problem. It's so
hot! We're trying to use the compressed air to cool it down.

It's so hot!

That's cooled down, that's better.

Margot Foster: Tell me what the tub is actually used for?

It's an incubator.

Margot Foster: So how many people can you get in this tub?

Four comfortably, eight at a squish.

Margot Foster: And Aaron's put it together, so it's custom-made for the ship.

Absolutely, it's just cobbled together from an incubator, some hosing, there's a heat exchanger
that's kind of taking salt water out of the sea, it's being warmed up by the waste steam from the
ship's boiler. So we've got a carbon-neutral bath!

Margot Foster: It's a triumph of recycling actually.

It's tremendous.

Margot Foster: So who's hopping in today? Helena, are you going to get in?

Helena Baird: Yeah, you bet!

Margot Foster: Someone who regularly enjoys time in the spa is Helena Baird. She's one of the many
students without whom all the arduous scientific sampling work simply could not have been done.
Helena has just finished work.

Helena Baird: Yes, I finished a pretty hard 12-hour shift just now, I'm pretty tired.

Margot Foster: How many trawls came in?

Helena Baird: We've done four trawls and four box-cores this shift, which is a record for the
voyage so far.

Margot Foster: And what's your job? What are you looking for?

Helena Baird: I'm doing a variety of jobs, just gathering samples for back home at the Antarctic
Division. We're taking mud samples, animal samples from the trawls, anything we can get our hands
on really.

Margot Foster: How does it fit in with your study?

Helena Baird: To be honest, it doesn't really. I'm more of a volunteer on this, just trying to get
some experience and an amazing experience, but as soon as I get home obviously I'll plunge back
into my PhD and try and focus on it.

Margot Foster: And what's your PhD on?

Helena Baird: I'm looking at arthropods, which are small crustaceans, and they're very, very
abundant and diverse on the sea bed of Antarctica, so I'm looking into their genetics and their

Margot Foster: Must be great having someone like Bertrand around who can point things out to you.

Helena Baird: It certainly is, and we're seeing some amazing arthropods coming up from these deep
sites too, really interesting animals.

Margot Foster: So it doesn't worry're on 12-hour shifts and yet you're in this most
extraordinary environment. Aren't you sometimes torn, or do you find yourself at the porthole a

Helena Baird: Yes, you've got a point. I'm happy to do the work of course, but it's hard when
you...every time you look out of the porthole of the laboratory and you see this new amazing
iceberg or a beautiful sunset and you just want to be outside experiencing it.

Margot Foster: And I see you spending quite a bit of time on the deck. Is that part of your
routine? Have you created space to appreciate the environment in that way?

Helena Baird: Yes, I think I definitely have. I do try to make an effort to spend at least 40
minutes outside a day to really feel like I'm in the Antarctic, because you can get sucked into the
routine and the ritual of ship life and forget that you're actually in this amazing place. So if I
spend that amount of time outside each day and I feel the cold and I breathe the fresh air, then I
really, really feel it.

Margot Foster: What have been the highlights for you?

Helena Baird: Too many to mention, to be honest. I was reading back in my journal yesterday and I
noticed that about eight times I've written; Today was the best day yet! But I guess up there would
be the Mertz glacier, of course, this massive tongue of ice just going out for kilometres and
kilometres from the Antarctic continent. And probably yesterday would be one of my favourite
moments. I just remember waking up for my shift, it was about midnight, and heading up to the
bridge to look out and there was this amazing sunset. The sun had just sunk below the continent of
Antarctica and there were purples and oranges and blues and reds in the sky and this beautiful
smooth white slope rising up into the sky and bergs's indescribable really.

Margot Foster: And we haven't really had sunsets much, so it was a bit of a novelty, wasn't it.

Helena Baird: It certainly was. I'm used to the sun skimming the horizon and coming back up again,
so it's nice to be back with sunsets.

Margot Foster: Today we're sort of scooting along the edge of the ice pack.

Helena Baird: That's right, we're looking out now actually at a thin border of white jagged
geometric shapes, and we're just skirting the pack ice at the moment.

Margot Foster: Did you happen to be awake when we went through the pack ice?

Helena Baird: Yes, I've made sure that I was woken up every time we went through it because it's
amazing...I think you see the most wildlife when you go through the pack ice, the crab-eater seals
and the penguins, and I just love seeing the way the Aurora cracks open the ice and just turns
these solid slabs of white into mush, basically, below the hull, it's amazing.

Margot Foster: Have you captured much wildlife on your camera, because everybody has got a camera.

Helena Baird: I know. I've got this pretty pathetic little digital thing that just kind of points
and snaps, and everybody's got these big SLR zoom lenses. But I prefer to just sit back, take it
all in with my own eyes and let everyone else take the snazzy photos and then get the photos off
them later on.

Margot Foster: And would you be tempted to apply to come back here in a working capacity again?

Helena Baird: In a second, Margot, definitely. It's the most amazing experience of my life, and I'm
dying to come back as soon as I can. Something collaborative like this is really, really special,
and at such an early point in my career, to be a part of it and to meet all those international
contacts is really, really lucky for me.

Margot Foster: Has it inspired the field that you're working in?

Helena Baird: Definitely. Not that it needed much inspiration, I love marine biology, but if
anything it's just made me even more passionate, yes.

Margot Foster: When we began this journey you had a pretty ambitious target of what you wanted to
achieve. Just remind me of what your hopes were at that stage.

Martin Riddle: Yes, when we set out we had a plan of 67 stations in a bit of a grid across the
continental shelf between the Dumont D'Urville station and the Mertz glacier. They were laid out in
a fairly arbitrary fashion trying to get representative depths and separation from east to west. We
really didn't expect to get all of those sites sampled, but as it went we had really good weather,
we had the weather on our side, and we managed to get about 10% more than we'd originally planned
for. Not only that, as we were going we were able to modify the plan, so from being originally a
somewhat arbitrary grid we were able to target certain features and to fine-tune our sampling
towards the end. So yes, it got really exciting wondering just how much more we could squeeze out
of it.

Margot Foster: So you've gathered a pile of data, more than you hoped for. Is it too early to
observe, perhaps, some of the things that have been achieved?

Martin Riddle: Most of what we've got isn't data at this stage, most of what we've got is samples,
and the hard work really begins with sorting these samples and turning it into data. We've got
preserved specimens which will need to be examined by specialist taxonomists under the microscope
to identify exactly what they are. We've got a lot of imagery from cameras that were mounted on the
trawls, both still cameras and video cameras. And when we bring in the identifications from the
taxonomists with that imagery we'll be able to get a really good picture of how the patterns of
these animals are, not just between stations but we'll also be able to identify the patchiness and
the variability within stations.

Margot Foster: This is just one part of a contribution to a larger census, the census of Antarctic
marine life. Are you able to say at this stage how significant a piece of the jigsaw you're going
to be offering?

Martin Riddle: This is going to be hugely significant. This campaign of three ships is just one
part of the bigger census of Antarctic marine life, and together all that information is going to
be brought together, and that's going to hugely advance the understanding of the living systems in
the Antarctic marine environment, way beyond our current level of understanding.

Margot Foster: Because you started with no understanding, no insight into what lived at these

Martin Riddle: No, it's not true to say that. In fact some of the earliest explorers did some
excellent work. Scott's people...Scott had zoologists with him, they did some excellent work, but
they were only able to get just the briefest glimpse into what was going on on the sea bed and in
the marine systems. But since then the advance in understanding has been very slow. It takes a huge
effort to really make the big leaps forward, and this, as part of the International Polar Year, the
IPY, is a huge effort and it is going to make a huge leap forward in our understanding.

Margot Foster: So we're talking about a huge leap forward. A lot of the work lies ahead. Tell me,
just before we get into what your hopes are for that kind of work and the directions that will go
in, tell me about some of the previous big International Polar Years and what they achieved.

Martin Riddle: The last International Polar Year was 50 years ago, and perhaps its major
achievement, its major legacy was a network of infrastructure, of stations on the Antarctic
continent for the pursuit of science. So that came out of the International Geophysics Year, 50
years ago, and that has been a lasting legacy. It provided that infrastructure that modern
Antarctic science has built on and used. What I see as the legacy coming out of this Polar Year is
perhaps the networks and the infrastructure of expertise that will be built out of these sorts of
collaborative programs. Big achievements really come from multidisciplinary teams.

Margot Foster: Could you drill down a bit for me and give me an example of that level of
multidisciplinary and collaborative work on Voyage 3?

Martin Riddle: Many different areas of expertise have been brought together, from physical
scientists, mathematicians and modellers, through the chemists who are understanding the chemical
processes in the water, through to the ecologists who understand the interactions of the living
environment with the physical and chemical environment, and then right the way through to the
taxonomists who specialise in understanding and identifying and naming the new species that we're

Margot Foster: This must be a very satisfying part of the voyage, to have it all under your belt
and to be feeling so successful, but equally your mind must be going in overdrive thinking about
'where to from here'. Can you give me any idea about what your hopes are for future collaborative

Martin Riddle: I'm hoping that we really can build on the legacy of the IPY in the sense of
Antarctic marine life. We've only really touched on the biodiversity of the offshore areas, the
coastal areas of East Antarctica. There's a whole vast swathe of it towards Casey, past Casey to
Davis and Mawson, it's the coast of the Australian Antarctic Territory which represents 42% of the
area of the Antarctic, and there is virtually nothing known of the biodiversity of those coastal
and shelf areas. So this is a start, we've laid the groundwork for that work. The IPY will have put
in place that network of expertise. What we should be doing is building on that and really filling
in the major gap between here and west of Mawson. It's the one part of Australian territory that is
really unknown and totally undescribed.

Margot Foster: How confident that you feel, Martin, that the legacy you're hoping for will in fact

Martin Riddle: I'm very confident. The stars are aligned for this sort of work. The Southern Ocean,
people are realising, is one of the areas that is most vulnerable to climate change, particularly
to increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and we just don't know enough about it to
understand exactly how much of a risk that is to the system. So there really is very practical
reasons for extending the work that's being done on this voyage. It's not just about pursuing some
archaic scientific interest, it is actually very valuable, very applied. It's answering some of the
big questions of modern science.

Robyn Williams: Voices on board the Aurora Australis fading into the distance. Our guide was Margot
Foster, who usually presides over Bush Telegraph on ABC Radio National.