Sunday, 27 January 2008


After 6 weeks in the Southern Ocean I guess I can't really complain about a bit of a blow, but it certainly came at a frustrating time. We had found a site of very low productivity (from satellite images of chlorophyll), which we wanted to sample as a contrast to the high productivity found around South Georgia. We did a day's work there but then the wind got up and we couldn't put the big nets in. We can deploy CTDs in rougher weather than the nets so time pressure forced us to abandon the remainder of the station and press on with the CTD transect. Then it got too bad for CTDs. We skipped one (we go much slower in rough weather so were still losing time) but then sat at the next CTD location until things improved. They did, briefly, and we got to the next station. Then it got properly windy, which is better in some ways as you know you're not going to deploy anything for at least 12 hours so can relax (or just switch concentration to the ship pitching up and down into the waves, though I'm basically immune to that now). Things are better now, we've done the survey and crucially recovered the mooring (needs calm conditions). Better still, all the instruments on the mooring have worked.

Wildlife-wise there have been occassional sightings of Hourglass Dolphins, my view lasting about a second, so no chance of photos. We've started seeing Diving Petrels - common but not very good fliers (they are quite similar to Puffins) so they don't venture far from South Georgia. Macaroni Penguins are also a new species for the trip. At 6.30am a couple of days ago the low sun picked out large numbers of Prions and Blue Petrels flying away from South Georgia (they change over at the nest at night and we are 120 miles away, they also have white underwings).

Their place, we're just fairly incompetent visitors.

Antarctic Prion, feeds on zooplankton. We're trying to show it goes to places with lots of zooplankton, would make sense, but we'll see how the data comes out.

Wandering Albatross. It's rarely possible to accept how big they are (about 11foot wingspan - that is, a sensibly sized person each way from the body.


Elaine said...

For what it's worth, cold and wet/snowy here in California too. But the floor almost always holds still. Would a screen shot or two of some of the types of raw data or analysis be an option? Other daily routine sights might illuminate us as well, as we sit snug at home in the northern winter - perhaps the galley? berths? I do very much enjoy all these wildlife, geography, and equipment shots! First rate! The albatross is amazing. And the earlier ice field shots are awe inspiring. Plus, I didn't realize elephant seals had so few teeth. Just enough to tear each other up, I suppose.
Cheers Hugh.

Ian said...

Hi Hugh.

Have been rubbish at replying to your blog, have been reading though. Enjoying the Prion photo. All is good in the office and at home, off to Barnes tomorrow for a Wetlands Conference and a general nosey around at the same time. Off to So'ton at the weekend for Lyn's b'day and a task which will be fun. Looks like you've had some pretty rough weather, but as you say makes good wildlife watching weather!

All the best