People and opportunistic measurements at sea

by Penny Holliday

To lighten the mood after yesterday’s science-heavy post, today I’m posting a few photos of people and some of the things we are up to. Mainly its just a chance to show some nice pics of the folk here on board, but there is one small sciency thing worth mentioning tonight.

A few weeks ago we had a workshop in Oban to talk about EEL science, and during the course of those conversations we hit upon the idea of looking for some specific creatures that live on the seafloor just where we do our CTD stations. We don’t have time, resources or equipment to do a proper survey of the seafloor, but we thought it might be interesting to attach some lights and cameras to our CTD frame and see what we could see.

There has been great anticipation associated with this kit, lent to us by Kerry Howell from Plymouth Uni, who is presently on another research ship further south. In my mind, the ocean under the waves is a very theoretical place made up of numbers and bright coloured lines on a screen, so having some film of what it actually looks like is really quite thrilling. The one photo below that has no-one it in, shows the bottom of the CTD frame with the lights and camera attached.

So far we have mainly captured scenes of the extraordinary amount of biological material that sinks through the ocean and arrives at 1000m depth – it’s called marine snow and on the camera it does indeed look like a heavy fall of snowflakes in the water. The surface layer has a phytoplankton bloom in full swing at the moment – the surface is green and milky with billions of these tiny plants, and the snow that falls below it is rather spoiling our view of the seafloor. However, we have seen one clear view of ripples on the seafloor at 1000m…. but none of the sponges we seek yet. We will keep you posted.

Photos by Penny Holliday and Eoghan Daly

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