Sights at sea

By Liz Comer

The views from Discovery have been plentiful over the last two weeks, consisting of a very muddy back deck, rocks poking out of the water, many birds and a passing of our very own RRS James Cook on its steam back to Southampton. This has provided us with much entertainment and excitement.

Over the last two days the Benthic team have been deploying bottom trawling sleds that collect muddy sediment from around 2000 m depth. When it gets hauled onto the back deck the muddy sediment that is caught in the nets needs to be transferred into buckets, ready for filtering. The team will then analyse the creatures that are living on the sea bed (see previous blog entries, below).

Birds have been the most abundant type of wildlife that we have seen, particularly fulmers. The fulmers seem to think we are a fishing boat and hang around in large numbers around the back deck. They haven’t seemed to cotton on to the fact that we are only pulling up mud and water samples from the ocean. I think these, along with the gannets, have been a favourite for everyone on board. I have learnt that the fulmers can be distinguished by their black nostrils, gliding close to the waves and the gannets have an obviously yellow head, long wings with black tips. Leaving Scotland some of my fellow scientist spotted Puffins and I saw an arctic skewer when we were nearing Iceland (photo in previous blog). We have passed Rockall which is a large rock sticking poking out the water, however, it has a covering of bird droppings on the top making it look like an ice frosted cake or a snowy mountain.

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