National Geographic : 1971 Nov
the penguins shivered violently, even while standing in hot water. Another of Ted Hammel's contrivances was a motor-driven canvas belt, running on rollers within a wire-mesh enclosure. Here his penguin subjects waddled briskly along, hour after hour, getting nowhere but yielding readings of their body temperature and blood flow during protracted exercise. As Dr. Hammel's birds trudged on, Alpha Helix's projects at times resembled a five ring circus. A University of Washington team fitted penguins with yellow vests that carried radio-telemetering transmitters (page 623). Released on their nesting grounds, the birds broadcast blood-flow data into a recorder. Two UCLA scientists fed other penguins miniature transmitters the size of rolls of mints, and from a tent on the rookery listened to changes in their body temperatures. A senior Scripps physiologist, Dr. Per Fredrik Scholander, who designed Alpha Helix as a world-ranging biology laboratory, studied the oxygen-carrying capacity of penguin muscle tissue. "These are all bits and pieces of basic knowledge," he told a shipboard seminar, "that help us better understand life itself." Hero Fishes for "Gaping Head" Through these long sun-filled days, Hero went out each morning in search of one of the most unusual creatures in Antarctic seas. She was having little luck catching Chaenoce phalus (meaning "gaping head") aceratus. "Commonly known as the ice fish," said Dr. Edvard A. Hemmingsen, a Norwegian who led Alpha Helix's scientific team. "It and other species of this Antarctic family are the only vertebrates that have no red cells in their blood-no hemoglobin, which in most animals carries the oxygen essential for life." He wanted to study the ice fish's breathing and cardiovascular systems-but the fish was elusive, and Dr. Hemmingsen was be coming anxious. "We go farther," he decreed. So I moved from Alpha Helix to a berth aboard the Hero, to sail with her on a long distance trawling expedition. We stood north through the spectacularly beautiful Gerlache Strait, named for the first scientific expedition to winter over in Antarctica-a party under Belgian Adrien de Gerlache, whose ship Belgica was beset in the ice in 1898. Its first mate was Roald Amundsen, who 13 years later became the first explorer to reach the South Pole. 634 Mountains fell sheer to the sea on both sides of the strait. Hero butted her way through broken pack ice, leaving smears of red bottom paint on the white floes. A pod of fin whales, each 50 feet long or more, blew and rolled past us. Killer whales raced alongside, their high, sharp fins outpacing Hero's plod ding nine knots. Off Brabant Island, under the massive 8,274-foot pyramid of Mount Parry, Dr. Hemmingsen found his ice fish. Again and again Hero's big trawl went over the side, dragging along the bottom 300 feet down. Each time it came up, it held one, or two, or even four ice fish. One to two feet long, their pale-gray bodies seemed half mouth, usually wide open. "Get them into the tanks quickly," Ed Hemmingsen warned. His grin was as wide as that of the fish. "If we can learn in detail how the ice fish transports oxygen without hemoglobin," he told Hero's hardworking crew, "it will KODACHROME L) N.G .S. Moment of hatching: Dominican gull chick pecks out a window on the world with its egg tooth, a thickening at the end of its beak that will disappear as the bird matures.