A couple of days before New Years eve we went on a field trip to sample some areas in the Dry Valleys, that we had not sampled for nematodes before. We did this because we had been told that these areas seemed promising for finding many nematode species together and potentially find some rare species.

It was very cloudy in the morning and we were not sure whether we could get into our field sites. We flew under the clouds across the McMurdo Sound, but when we came to the coast of the other side all the clouds disappeared, although the bottom of the valleys were still covered in fog.
On the Way to Mt. Suess

However, the change increased our mood considerably and allowed us to enjoy the stunning views. Here is a photo of one of the nicer images, a small glacier on a steep rock surface.
On the Helicopter

The first location we visited was Mt. Suess north-east of Taylor Valley where we do most of our work. We landed about half way up the mountain, and it was a very promising location.
Mount Suess

As we were quite far away from our base, the helicopter shut down and stayed with us while we collected some soil samples. The pilots, Jack and Dave, were kind enough to pose for a picture. The helicopter is a Bell 212, and it is a very nice helicopter to fly in.
Helicopter Escorts

In our usual stile we collected soil samples using a plastic scoop, and below you can see Breana about to take a sample with a view over the valley.
Breana Sampling Mt. Suess

Dave, one of our pilots for the day came down to check on our sampling. He was very interested in how we collected our samples, and as the best way to learn is by trying it yourself, we made Dave an honorary Wormherder. As you can tell he enjoyed taking samples very much, and he did a really good job.
Dave is a Wormherder

After we had spent about two hours at Mt. Suess, we got back into the helicopter and flew to Pegtop Mountain, which was only a couple of miles away. It was very foggy and therefore difficult to find a good spot to land the helicopter, but we got there in the end. The site was very rocky, and we were not sure we would find any soil to sample. However, we soon discovered some soil between the rocks, and after we returned to the base the soil turned out to have several species of nematodes.
Pegtop Mountain

Before we went home we visited one last site. This site found close to the McKelvey Valley, was very pretty, but it was very windy and it was very cold. So we collected our samples very quickly and got back into the warmer helicopter.
Cold Valley

The flight back from this site provided us with some great views. We flew past an area know as the ‘Labyrinth’:
Flying by Labrynth

and one of the larger glaciers in Taylor Valley:
Glacier

So we returned to our base at McMurdo after a good day in the field.

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