fredag 8. oktober 2010
Marine Arctic Biology Cruise
I just came home from an awesome week spent at "R/V Jan Mayen" during my field cruise in AB-202!
Our first day (Thursday) was spent by traveling up north to Kongsfjorden, were we would start to take samples by different kind of trawling and plankton nets. So during our first day we mainly had some safety-briefing, and got to know the boat, and spending time at the bridge.
The next day (Friday) we started to sample. We were divided in three groups, and we would rotate to work with fish, benthos and zooplankton during the cruise. My group started on the zooplankton, which was really exciting to me because I was hoping to catch some sea angels! You see, I have a master project waiting for me up here now, I will write my master on sea angels (latin: Clione limacina). And my supervisor-to-be was on the cruise and gave me some equipment to collect any Clione that we would find! So I was super excited to see if we would catch some!! After several net samples, where we mostly caught copepods and small jellyfish, I finally got some Clione!! Awesome start on the cruise!
During the night we steamed to Hinlopen, which is the ocean area between Spitsbergen and Nordaustlandet. This day my group and I was supposed to work with benthos (bottom-living animals), we didn`t get started before afternoon because it took time for the fish group to get their trawl. No wonder it took time, the trawl had been filled with mud, and it started to rip in pieces, the crew did everything they could to get it up but it wasn`t possible! And they discovered that we also got a greenland shark in the trawl! Which was lost when we lost the trawl... While waiting, most of us was sitting up on the bridge watching Nordaustlandet and Spitsbergen, and the breath-taking glaciers! Or knitting and crocheting. We got a benthos-trawl on deck later on, we got a lot of cool animals! Different brittlestars, anemones, sponges, soft corals, hermit crabs, polychaetes, sea cucumbers, shrimps, and a few scallops! We were trying to identify as many species as possible. While I was working on the benthos, the zooplankton group got some more Clione which they saved for me! =D And a few sea butterflies (lat: Limacina helicina) which is supposed to be the only animal Clione eats.
Oh, I forgot to mention that the meals we had on the ship was awesome! This day we even got steak, because it was Saturday! We had so much good food, and usually dessert for both lunch and dinner, and always some fruit (you have no idea how much students at Svalbard appreciate fresh fruit, it is so expensive up here!) Twice a day we had coffee/tea/cake break!
Since we lost a trawl on Saturday, we started our Sunday by doing a second trawl so the fish group would get their data from Hinlopen. We also had some traps and netting staying out during the night, and I got to join the zodiac driving out to pick it up! It was so cool to stay in the small boat as we passed pieces of drift ice while we tried to get closer to the island Tommelen ("The Thumb"). We did not catch a lot of fish, just a few sculpins, but 2 of them came up as stripped skeletons! Scavenging crustaceans had had a dinner party!
Then we started to steam norhtwards, we would to a sample just north of Spitsbergen before we continued to the pack-ice. While we steamed out of Hinlopen, we passed a lot of drift ice, and on one of the ice sheets we found a polar bear! He was looking at us for a little while, before he decided we were`nt interesting, and laid down to take a nap. It was great to se the bear relaxing on the ice! That`s my fifth bear!
Early Monday morning we were awaken by drift ice scratching and being crushed against the side of the boat. We were on our way to the pack-ice! Problem was that it was foggy outside, the boat had to steam very slowly, and we could not really see if there was ice sheet big enough for the boat to anchor to. So we had to wait and see if the fog would lift, and if the ice would get bigger. We spent some time outside watching the ice, looking at polar bear tracks, and enjoying the childish joy of watching ice being crushed in front of the boat! After some hours most of us were sitting back on the bridge again, knitting, crocheting or sleeping. The fog was slowly lifting, but we could not see any big ice sheets... After lunch we got the message that we were turning back, it would take too long time to reach the pack ice =( It was a huge disappointment to everyone! So now we would steam all the way back to Isfjorden to take samples there... During the day we had mostly been working with earlier samples, but after dinner we got a new trawl with a bunch of squids! In my opinion, this was the coolest animal we caught during the whole cruise!! (Yes, even cooler than my Clione!)
Tuesday was a rough day! Bad weather and huge waves! I woke up several times during the night just because the movement of the waves made me crash into the wall! Many people didn`t show up for breakfast, they were to sea sick. Strangely enough I didn`t feel bad at all, I had no problems walking around the boat or sitting and eating at the breakfast table. What I did get problems with was the seminar after breakfast, when we were sitting still in the auditorium watching a powerpoint presentation... We were supposed to have a double seminare, but we got fewer and fewer people present so we quit after one. I went back to bed (which was probably not any better, as I kept rolling around because of the waves, but at least I was lying down.) It was actually quite fascinating to notice how I was lifted up an pushed down in the madrass by the waves, and I was quite sure that at some point I would fall out of bed =P After a little while of little sleep, I was way better than earlier, and went to the bridge to watch the waves. I was really happy that we did`nt have to work with samples during this time, looking into a microscope while being in waves isn`t really a good idea! Doesn`t matter how well ductaped the microscopes are to the table, the sample will still move, and I guess we would have ended up with quite a few blue eyes!
It`s quite impressing how big the waves become in open sea, and how big effect they have on a boat!
On Wednesday, my group were working with fish. We had a bottom trawl and pelagic trawl in Billefjorden, a closed fjord. While the other groups got some huge Atlantic cod, and a lot of small polar cod and other fish, we only got the small polar cods... and very little shrimps. We were quite early finished with our samples beause of this, we even had an extra trawl because of the small catch! IN the pelagic trawl we barely got anything, except for 30 kg of jellyfish! We got a few snailfish, 1-2 herring, 1 capelin, and 2 poacher fish (which are really cool, they start to vibrate when you annoy them!), and small shrimps and crustaceans. After lunch we got the option to go and visit Pyramiden, the Russian left-over town in Billefjorden. It was cool to be back there at this time of the year, to see how it looked like without snow! (At this point my camera said pretty much goodbye, so I don´t have too much own pictures from Pyramiden. Hopefully I will get some =) It look even more abandoned now, and all the buildings look even more creepy.
After breakfast on thursday it was time to pack and get out of our "rooms" (don`t know the appropriate name for "room" on a boat in english). We started to pack all the gear and equipment, (I suddenly got 5 more Clione to take care of from a net sample in the middle of the night, so I was also working with my own samples at the same time). Before we left Billefjorden, our boat was used by Sysselmannen/the Governor for a Helicopter Resque Operation-test! Two of the students got to be picked up by the helicopter! It was really, really cool!
After having dinner on the boat, we started to get the gear back to Unis and help a little bit with organizing all the stuff. We got a lift back to Nybyen when we were finished =)
It was an awesome cruise, I had so much fun! I got to see so many cool animals, my fifth polar bear, helicopter in action, visit Pyramiden again, and I even started to sample for my own master thesis!
PS: Write me a small comment, so I know if people still read my blog =) (or at least look at my pictures) Sorry for all the text this time, but since we didn`t leave the boat like we did last times, I don´t have a thousand pictures from different things. And since my camera died, I have even less than I would have had normally... I´ll put out some more pictures later! =)