All of us who work for the U.S. AMLR Program love Antarctica. We wouldn’t work as tirelessly as we do–spending holidays away from family, getting up at all hours of the night to attend to misbehaving gliders–if we didn’t believe that what we do makes a difference for this amazing ecosystem.
Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that science goes on in Antarctica without one of its biggest cheerleaders. Our friend and colleague, Dr. Adrian Dahood-Fritz, and her husband, Andrew, were passengers on the dive boat Conception, which burned and sank off Santa Cruz Island, California in September 2019.
Adrian loved Antarctica perhaps more than anyone. That love began with a fellowship in Antarctic policy with the National Science Foundation’s Office of Polar Programs. After that, she went on to earn her Ph.D. at George Mason University, building ecosystem models to design Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Antarctica. During her Ph.D., she sailed on three of our winter surveys as a zooplankton specialist. No one jumped up and donned six layers of extreme cold weather gear and ran out on deck to retrieve a frozen zooplankton net in the middle of the -40oC Antarctic winter night as enthusiastically as Adrian did. Antarctica was her happy place.
After finishing her Ph.D., Adrian moved to San Diego for a year-long post-doc with the Antarctic Division and the Pew Charitable Trusts to continue her Antarctic MPA work. After her post-doc, she accepted a position as a Senior Scientist and Policy Advisor with the California Ocean Protection Council in Sacramento. She had just started that job in April 2019.
This year, a glider we’ve named “Adrian” is flying for the first time in the Bransfield Strait. She’ll fly from the west end to the east end and back again, collecting data on how many krill are in important feeding areas for several species of penguins. Even though we’d give anything to have our friend back, we’re comforted knowing that we will think about her every day as “Adrian” continues Adrian’s legacy of Antarctic science. I think she’d be pretty pleased knowing that she’s back in her happy place again.