Last night we crossed over a ridge into the Georgia Basin. This means that we are now downstream of South Georgia. This has two main impacts on the biology. Firstly, iron from South Georgia and/or the shelf surrounding it fertilises the water and causes a very strong phytoplankton bloom, concentrations being several times levels found further south. This captures a large amount of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and probably exports it to deep waters. This takes it out of contact with the atmosphere for several hundred years. I say probably as we we will recover the sediment trap tomorrow, but we (Southampton/PhD hat on temporarily) have shown this around the Crozet Islands. The second effect is we've got Krill back. We spent all night trying to catch them, but without success - very frustrating. Also means cetacean numbers are up - 6 Humpbacks and 6 Southern Right Whales this morning, and 5 Hourglass Dolphins.
A feeding group of Southern Right Whales
Bird numbers are also up and we had a new game during the last CTD cast of reading the code on a plastic ring on the leg of one of the birds. I eventually got it through binoculars and Jose confirmed with an excellent photo. Will be interesting to hear about the bird, it is presumably from Bird Island, a BAS base on a small island at the western end of South Georgia where birds and seals are studied.
ps to Elaine (and maybe others) I am starting to get some photos of inside the ship and will post them soon.