Dr. Marsh at the South Pole
Sometimes Adam Marsh is so cool he's freezing. Marsh, a biochemist at the University of Delaware Graduate College of Marine Studies, regularly travels to Antarctica to learn more about the sea life that inhabits the ocean surrounding the Earth's frozen continent.
Diving into icy waters wearing an insulated diving suit that covers all but his face, Marsh says his lips and cheeks go numb after 60 seconds of exposure. But that doesn't deter him from exploring the rich life around him. During his research expeditions, he's examined sea urchins, fishes, and corals. He's come face to face with penguins and seals. And he's even had a close encounter with a pod of killer whales.
On Wednesday, November 15, from noon to 1 p.m. at the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington, Marsh will share his adventures in "Some Like It Cold: A Voyage Beneath the Frozen Seas of Antarctica." The lecture, which includes lunch, will lead off a series of talks scheduled for the next year under the sponsorship of the University of Delaware Graduate College of Marine Studies and the Sea Grant College Program. The event costs $10 per person, and advance reservations are required.
"Antarctica is such a vast plain of ice that it's often called the 'White Desert,' " Marsh notes. "But in the nearby ocean, under the 8-foot-thick sea ice, you wouldn't believe how incredibly beautiful it is," he says. "There is a rich community of sponges, sea urchins, corals, fish, and other organisms in spectacular colors ranging from bright reds to oranges and purples. The colors actually rival those of a coral reef."
In addition to sharing breathtaking underwater photography and video clips of Antarctic sea life, Marsh will highlight the living and working conditions at his outpost at McMurdo Station on Ross Island; his visit to the South Pole; and the progress he's making in his polar studies.
Marsh's research, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, focuses on learning more about the early life stages of the Antarctic sea urchin (Sterechinus neumayeri). This animal resembles a pincushion, with long, red spines extending from its round shell. It lives on the seafloor and uses its spines or sucker-tipped tube feet to move about.
Specifically, Marsh is working to find out how the Antarctic sea urchin's embryos are able to develop so well in the extreme cold of the polar sea. The animal's metabolism may yield clues to how organisms develop in other harsh environments, from deep-sea basins with their crushing pressure to local bays where wide variations in temperature and salinity occur.
Marsh received his Ph.D. in marine science from the University of Maryland. He also has a master's degree in invertebrate zoology and bachelor's degrees in zoology and English literature from the University of South Florida.
The lecture includes lunch at the award-winning Hotel du Pont. To reserve your seat, at $10 per person, call (302) 831-2841. Or e-mail your reservations to MarineCom@udel.edu.