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Mónica - copepod fishing between the ice floes

Posted by Mónica Hoffmeyer (IADO), Argentina on 24 February 2011

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Hi! I'm Mónica Susana Hoffmeyer, a general ecologist and who became a zooplankton ecologist through time.

Currently I am a researcher at IADO (Argentine Institute of Oceanography-CCT CONICET). I’m working at Jubany Station (KGI, South Shetlands), Antarctica since the end of  January and I plan to stay here until March, 8.

Almost all my experience in 20 years of science has been focussed on marine plankton from coastal temperate and cold ecosystems of Argentina. However, I always wanted to know Antarctica, this austral continent so far away, cold and mysterious and finally could come to study the cold Antarctic ecosystems. My interest increased after an earlier cruise experience along the west coast of Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) on board of the ship Puerto Deseado of the Servicio de Hidrografía Naval of Argentina and a subsequent research stay at the AWI in Bremerhaven, Germany, where I craved invaluable help and the expertise of Prof. Sigrid Schiel.


Really, this is a fascinating experience for me that I will never forget!.... To look at the glacier opposite of Jubany Station and hear the glacial abruptions that produce thundering noises every day, while at the same time Potter Cove fills with small floes, is amazing... The landscape is however still so extraordinary that it gives me a great peaceful sensation! .... Much more so when I go sampling in the cove with Oscar, Gastón, Maxi or the divers: I can not explain with words the beauty and magnificence of the Potter Cove landscapes, outwards: the rocky parts with the The Pinitos, and the M Rock (shaped like the letter "M"), the Three Brothers hill on Potter peninsula, as well the glacier’s front in the inner cove, close to our station.


Pinito Rocks at the outer opening of Potter cove into Maxwell Bay close to our famous station E2


Thanks to my cooperation with my colleagues Marcelo Hernando, Irene Schloss, Gustavo Ferreyra and Gastón Almandoz, among others, in the framework of ClicOPEN and now in the  IMCOAST project, they had the courtesy to invite me to work here for a while. I am indebted to them. I hope to reward them with good research results!!!

Now, something about work! I investigate the effects of reduced  salinity, increasing temperatures and increased particulate matter load as result of melting and retreat of the glacier due to climate change. The focus is on the ecophysiological responses of planktonic copepods in this ecosystem: Calanus propinquus and Oithona similis and more global effects such as on spatial and temporal distribution patterns of zooplankton at population and community levels and on the food web and on bentho-pelagic coupling.

My scientific activities consist in a sampling programme conducted aboard a zodiac into two areas which I will explain in my next blog. In parallel, I am performing experiments to assess grazing and production of faeces of Antarctic copepods. I take  samples of zooplankton from the Cove, sort out some copepod key species and analyse the uptake of the natural particulate matter provided in the experimental set-up. Experiments last 24 h, during which bottles with zooplankton and particulate matter are maintained in a circulating water bath on the beach.

I thank several colleagues and friends who led me and also seduce me now, to love this system, its biota and their behavior ... (such as Sven Thatje, Verónica Fuentes, Alejandro Olariaga, Marcelo Hernando, Doris Abele, Oscar Gonzalez, Gaby Campana, Gastón Riedel, Gastón Aguirre, among others). 

Conclusion: I am working very comfortable and very happy! I feel this is the ideal state for any scientist who loves Antarctica!…isn’t it so?

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