Welcome to the web site for Sediment and Solute Transport on Rivers and Margins (SSTORM) Research Group! Reide Corbett and J.P. Walsh from East Carolina University and the UNC Coastal Studies Institute lead the team.
Check out our research in/on wetlands, estuaries, barrier islands, shelves and groundwater.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Palmer, Protected Areas and Penguins

Half of the science team is on the way back to Drake Passage, having
left Palmer Station around 9 a.m. Dr. Corbett and three graduate
students remained on Palmer and will be picked up by the R/V LMG in
early February. During their time at the station they may be visited
occasionally by cruise ships and research vessels, but for the most part
they are on the Antarctic Continent without a quick way off. There are
only small zodiacs at the station, no airfield and it's a 3-day steam
to Chile. They will rely on each other and the facilities at Palmer
Station to work in this harsh, isolated environment.

The isolation of the station and distance to populated areas helps to
reduce human influences on the natural environments that are being
studied. Protected areas that are used for research surround Palmer
Station. No nation owns Antarctica, and the Antarctic Treat reserves
the area south of 60 degrees South as a zone for the peaceful conduct of
research. Forty-eight countries have signed the treaty, and they work
to maximize research results and minimize logistics requirements. When
we left Palmer there were thirty-nine scientists living on the station.
Some scientists visit for a short time, and others stay for many

While at Palmer Station we were lucky to have the opportunity to
explore some of the surrounding areas. We visited a penguin colony, saw
elephant seals, hiked to the top of a glacier, witnessed ice calving off
of an iceberg and took a quick swim in the Southern Ocean. We were
pretty busy considering we were on station for less than 20 hours.

The penguin colony we visited was found on an island where one side was
designated as a protected area with no human influence and the other
side was open. Many of the other islands around the station are also
protected and no humans are allowed to set foot on them unless they have
proper permits to conduct research on the island. This protection helps
keep the areas natural and reduces human influences on native plants and
animals. At the penguin colony we saw Chinstrap Penguins, which have
white sides of face, chin and throat broken up by a black band or
"chinstrap", Adelie Penguins, which are black and white and Gentoo
penguins, which have white patches over the eyes joined across the crown
by a narrow bar. Some of these penguins had chicks they were keeping
warm, and others were still sitting on their eggs. We were careful to
keep our distance and not disturb them, but it was amazing to be so
close to wild penguins during different stages of their life cycle.

David Sybert, Aboard the R/V Gould
UNC-CSI Educator


  1. Dave,
    Thank you for answering the questions. The kids were unable to see them today, but hopefully will check them over their holiday break. The first thing they've been asking when coming into class is, Can we check the blog for answers! The pictures are also quite the conversation piece! They are amazing!
    You guys have a safe trip back!