mandag 17. oktober 2011

Benthic Communities Cruise

Finally I´m able to update my blog! :) After the cruise in AB-321 we`ve been so busy with lab work, project work and preparing for the practical and theoretical exam!

So here is a late update about my cruise :)
We went out for 13 days on R/V Helmer Hansen (formerly known as R/V Jan Mayen, a nice reunion from my AB-202 cruise). Even though this was a course about benthic communities (= animals living on the bottom), I got to use a plankton net for my own sampling! So in between the trawling, drop cameras, CTDs, and dredges, me and a couple of guys from the crew was trying to catch me some Clione! :) (aka Sea angels)

We started our work in Billefjorden and Isfjorden, before we went north. During the course we`ve been working on different projects, and hence we`ve been visitting fjords with different bottoms to look at both soft bottom communities and hard bottom communities. Whenever we went sampling in a fjord with soft bottom, we collected sediments with crabs and sieved them on deck. All the samples took hours to sieve, so we were working in shifts around the clock. You find some comfort in watching a beautiful sunrise when you`ve been sieving dirt most of the night :)

Both in Billefjorden, Hinlopen and a bit in Rijpfjorden I was lucky to get out in a zodiac to try to sample some more Clione! The first days of the cruise I didn´T get much, but the more north we went the more I found! And is was really fun to get out with the rubber boat to catch some more! In Hinlopen we got a curious visitor while being out on the boat: A Bearded seal was seriously wondering what kind of strange creatures we were, and since he didn`t see us as a threat we got a very good and long look at him :) He disappeared after a while when we got shipped to the small island Tommelen to take a walk (I stayed in the rubber boat to try to find some mroe Clione). But after the divers whent out to do their collecting, and they were putting away their equipment, the seal appeared again. He was clearly curious to take a look at my supervisor splashing around in the surface, because the seal appeared right next to him!

During the cruise we went as far north at 80 degrees. We went all the way up to Rossøya, which is the last piece of solid land before you get to the North Pole! We went further than this to survey the bottom areas with drop cameras. At this time my group didn`t have much samples to work with, so I enjoyed some time alone up on deck at the bow, taking in the feeling of having only ocean as far I could see! I really love that feeling of being so far from land, you don`t even see it! And knowing that the next thing in front of you is the top of the world!

When we went to Rijpfjorden, a north-facing fjord on Nordaustlandet, our whole class was able to go ashore. There is a small weatherstation here called Bjørnehiet, which our professors were fixing. Even though I really like spending my time on the boat, it was amazing to get out and take a walk! We didn`t see much life here, but we found the remnants of a polar bear. But this poor chap had been dead for at least a couple of years.

On our way back we stopepd to do more sampling in Kongsfjorden. We were a little bit dissappointed about our trawl, we only caught a couple of big atlantic cod, and were not allowed to do another one. This are has a lot of huge atlantic cod, and the biology students are usually allowed to keep the catch if we get enough (= free food!) And because of tight schedule, we didn`t get to go ashore and visit Ny-Ålesund.

We were really lucky with the weather during the cruise, we only had waves one or two days during our whole 13 day period! In the end I go so used to being on the boat, I didn`t have problems working with samples in the dissecting microscopes! Try to work with stomach content samples and identifying half digested organisms while its wavy, and see how long you can last ;)

All in all I managed to get 48 living Clione! With the help of divers, other hand-pickers being out with the boat, and the crew helping me with the MIK-net :)
There`s been a lot to do on the cruise, but it`s also been a lot of fun! And my class mates are great! We had a great time making private jokes on the boat, wich you only can expect when people are stuck together in limitted space over a longer time period.And when we`re been working with sieving dirt or sorting fish trawls, you have to laugh about something when you get covered in dirt and fish guuh! :)

For those of you who wonder, the places we went to are: Billefjorden, Isfjorden, Grønnfjorden, Smeerenburg, Raudfjorden, Hinlopen, Rossøya, Nordkappbukta, Rijpfjorden, Kongsfjorden, and backt to do some more work in Isjforden and Billefjorden :)

Enjoy the pictures!

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