Wednesday, 25 November 2009

End of the section

The first piece of work for the trip was a CTD section from the Falklands to the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, to measure the flow around Antarctica (which is about 130million tons per second, or 600 times the flow of the Amazon). This involves lowering the CTD package (the oceanographic equivalent of a weather balloon) to ten metres off the bottom at thirty stations across the Drake Passage. The last two stations took a bit longer to get to than expected due to fairly heavy sea ice, but we got there eventually and finished the section by 3am. Now time to get off night shifts.

Ice at midnight

Ice at dawn

Piling supplies for repairing the whark at Rothera, also some fuel. Not much space left on the back deck.
More sea iceLayered ice from an ice sheet, calved from the large tabular berg that was nearby

Pushing through a dense patch - it was all broken enough to push out of the way, though we are likely to need to do some proper ice breaking to reach Rothera.

Dense sea ice means Snow Petrels (and Chinstrap Penguins) have been added to the bird list. Sea ice is often discolored by ice algae, which in turn is eaten by zooplankton - petrel food. Any bergs that the ship turns over are quickly investigated by the birds. No whale photos yet but 17 Fin, 1 Minke and 1 Southern Bottleneose yesterday. First cruise ship today.

Cape Petrel, always some behind the ship.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Some work, some wind

Trip down to the Falklands went largely to plan. The announcement at Brize Norton that they had to reduce the weight of the plane and some passengers wouldn't fly was a bit worrying but it was soon announced that those left would be military. The plan was to sail on Tuesday morning but it was blowing 40knots in the harbour so we stayed tied up - we were never going to get any work done, or make much progress to where we wanted to work. We ended up leaving 6am Wednesday in wet but not very windy conditions. Wildlife was good as always on the passage away from the Falklands, highlight being two Commerson's Dolphins that escorted us out of the harbour. Got on to nights OK through sleeping a small amount at night (1.30am-5.30am) and then again after lunch. Mangaed one full shift of work last night but blowing again now so we're sitting around doing not a lot (well, actually 2 knots sideways in a strong current and trying to work out the best use of the time we have left).

Some good light this morning so got the camera out for the first time:

Wandering Albatross

Black-browed Albatross

Southern Royal Albatross

Wilson's Storm Petrel