Saturday, January 26, 2008

Letter From Antarctica

I finished my breakfast, then rushed to collect my warm waterproof gear and pack a lunch. I was ready to accompany Jen Blum, a bird researcher, into the field in search of giant petrels. Whenever I leave the United States Antarctic Program's Palmer Station, my temporary home on the Antarctic Peninsula, I have to be prepared for a long day.
For three months, I have been living on Anvers Island as part of the National Science Foundation's Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. I research alongside polar scientists, draw and take many photographs. When I return to my station lab in the evenings, I create art based on the plants, animals and science I have observed during the day.
The morning that Blum and I took a boat to Humble Island, we climbed up the rough terrain to the giant-petrel nests in the island's interior. When we found one, we carefully approached the parent. Blum gently picked up a downy white chick and measured the length of its bill to check its growth. After she weighed it, Blum nimbly returned the chick to its waiting parent. I recorded our findings in a waterproof field notebook. Giant petrels are vulnerable to extinction. Blum is the field team leader for research to determine the health of several local bird populations, including petrels, skuas, shags and penguins.
Palmer's hardworking teams are busy gathering data. Some dive in the frigid waters, studying the marine life. Others are researching krill, a keystone species in the Antarctic food chain. Their discoveries will be used to gain a better understanding of the incredible animals at the bottom of the world, and of our impact on their environment.
TFK Kid Reporter Jennifer Foliaco, 10, interviewed Baranowski about her journey. TFK:
What's the food like at the station?Baranowski:
Chefs come in from all over. One day we had Indian food.TFK:
Will you bring home any souvenirs?Baranowski:
Conservation is important, so I'm not allowed to take home anything (I find).TFK:
What has been the best part of your trip?Baranowski:
Each day is better than the last because, it brings a new adventure.TFK:
What grade would you give this trip?Baranowski:
An A++!

From Time For Kids

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