by Neill MacKay
All done! The fifth and longest NOC mooring was recovered and redeployed without incident, and moreover without spaghetti! The longer mooring also had a bigger anchor weighing 2200kg, so the final deployment ended with an extra big splash! The weather having been sunny all day we planned a BBQ for our evening meal, which the rain promptly showed up in time for. After a number of repetitions of moving the BBQs out onto the deck, then back towards the partial shelter at the edge of the CTD lab and back out again, the skies cleared and we were able to enjoy our celebration.
The work was not quite done yet though, and the last handful of CTD stations brought us up the continental slope of Greenland providing the first sight of land since leaving Reykjavik and then…sea ice! In fact there was more ice than expected, and since the Pelagia does not have a reinforced hull we had to make our way gingerly from station to station, carefully picking our route to avoid getting too close. For these shallow CTD stations we took additional samples for nutrients in the surface waters and for oxygen isotope ratios. The isotope ratio measurements allow us to determine how much of the freshwater content in the ocean is from rainfall and how much is from ice melt. Our progress up the shelf was halted when the ice became too dense to navigate through, and we diverted north to do the last couple of CTD stations before beginning the final leg of our journey – the transit back to Iceland!
While we began our transit, the Chief Engineer gave us a tour of the engine room, which reminded us that there is a whole other world of stuff going on underneath us as we do our science! And to give us a spectacular end to a successful trip, we have been lucky enough to see a group of orcas, surfacing and swimming alongside the ship for a good 20 minutes, and then a fin whale – the latter identified by comparing a few well-timed photos with pictures from the marine mammal book on the bridge!