Saturday, 5 January 2008

Settling down

We're coming to the end of the first of 9 process stations we'll be occupying during this cruise and things are beginning to settle down. There have been the inevitable problems with kit but they are mostly sorted by the tech guys now. We spend about two days on a station, mostly using a variety of nets and fishing methods to get plankton of different sizes from different depths for different reasons - some want live krill to test their daily rhythms, some just want to know how much is down there and don't mind how it comes back so long as they can identify and count it. There are three CTD casts per station - one full depth for physics and deep water, which doubles as a shallow cast for phytoplankton (the whole package goes to the bottom, but most bottles are closed near the surface; the other two are for collecting large volumes of water for a couple of people's work, but we will use the data from the casts for a couple of things.

Between stations there will be a series of full depth CTDs for physics so we (Mags and myself) will be much busier between stations than on them - out of sync with everyone else. Most of the initial rush to set up processing programs to deal with the exact details of the cruise and kit is done now so things are getting calmer. I have also been editing some of the processing scripts to make them easier to use.

This station has been the 'ice edge' but due to restrictions of using nets and towing things we have had to stay about 6 miles off from the main areas of ice so it doesn't really feel like it. There are a few icebergs around, but there were several hours to the north as well.

The first iceberg and the best bit of ice so far

A few icebergs around - not really what many of us had in mind for an 'ice-edge' station!

Bird/cetacean-wise we (there are some other keen birders amongst the biologists, and two dedicated seabird observers) haven't seen any ice-edge specialists. There have been some photogenic Chinstrap Penguins around and a few birds around the ship. A Minke Whale investigated the ship briefly at the beginning of the station but that has been the only cetacean, except for some that the seabird guys have seen.

Chinstrap Penguins have been hanging around the ship today. The calm water is because it is in the lee of the ship. The sea is calming down now after a relatively strong blow at 4am made everyone stop to consider what work we could do, luckily it didn't continue.

Wilson's Petrel - about the size of a Blackbird, but quite at home in the open sea.

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