"Our zodiac bobs up and down in the swell beneath brooding gray skies. A pair of scientists, glowing orange in survival jackets, haul a six-foot long torpedo-shaped vehicle over the side and angle it towards the depths. With a heave, the glider goes over. I plunge my hands into water that is colder than ice, feeling the shutter clicks vibrate through the bulky underwater housing. It's the last we'll see of this robotic explorer for the next two weeks.
I'm aboard the icebreaking ship Nathaniel B. Palmer in the Ross Sea of Antarctica to document a month-long oceanography expedition. Regarded by scientists as the world's last remaining intact ecosystem, the Ross Sea explodes with life in the brief summer months. Whales, seabirds, and seals converge here to take advantage of the all-you-can-eat buffet. At the base of this productive food chain are tiny marine plants called phytoplankton. An interdisciplinary team, led by scientists from Rutgers University, is studying the ingredients that fuel phytoplankton growth. Using a suite of high-tech tools including robotic gliders, the team is tracking deep currents that deliver nutrients and trace metals like iron onto the Ross Sea shelf and conducting experiments to understand the role of these essential 'vitamins' in supporting the ecosystem.
During the expedition, I will be working with writer Hugh Powell to craft daily photo essays for the Ross Sea Connection website. In addition, we will be facilitating nine question-and-answer sessions between the research team and middle school students in New Jersey via satellite phone." - Chris Linder
Chris Linder has been an iLCP photographer since 2007, he specializes in communicating science to the public using photography and multimedia. Chris holds a Master's degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program and maintains a part-time affiliation with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution as a Research Associate.
Since 2002, Chris has focused on communicating the stories of scientists working in the Arctic and Antarctic. His education and training as an oceanographer give him a special insight into photographing marine science. He has spent over a year of his life on expeditions to the polar regions! More on Chris.