Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Day 5 - How does all this work again?

Our first full day at sea begins with coordination, orientation and calibration.  The sea roles gently and the boat rocks from side to side. So for those like Pierre, who have never been to sea, it feels more like un-coordination, dis-orientation and inebriation.

The sea is quite calm considering we are at the ‘Furious Fifties’ - Latitudes with the strongest prevailing winds in the world. As we undulate through the odd white peak - Albatross swoop. Perhaps out of curiosity. Perhaps we are fishing and they can snare some side bait. It is no skin off their beaks as these birds can glide for months without touching land.

Photo: Gwyn surveying one of the vertical micro-structure profilers. (We are not whaling!, it's not a harpoon!)

Alex, Gwyn, Sean, John and James test the Vertical Microstructure Profilers to see if they float. (More difficult than it sounds apparently). They will be thrown overboard, measuring how turbulent the ocean is as they fall towards the bottom and rise back up again…hopefully.

Photo: Gwyn, Alex and some of the crew check if the VMP does.

Andrew, Brian and I begin dropping the Conductivity Temperature Depth Profiler (CTD). We pull up samples of water so Marie-Jose, Siobhan, Ben, Stevie, Andy and Brian can check for the Blob of tracer. As we descend off the South American Continental Slope the distance between sample locations is short and the depth to which we measure shallow. This makes for frantic too-ing and fro-ing. No sooner do we begin draining water from the CTD does George the winch man want to throw it over the side again.

We are far from the Blob’s realm, so we don’t expect to find much yet. It is simply a chance for us to hone our hunting techniques and Marie-Jose, Seobhan, Ben, Stevie and Brian in the tracer lab to sharpen their pipettes and practice aim with their weapons of mass spectrometry (this is a scientist's blog so have have to put up with a certain level of dag...).

Time to sleep! 

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