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Oct 12 - Zooplankton...and more AMT!!

Date: Sunday 12th October 2003

Position noon: 47° 45.7'S  051°25.8'W (343 Nm from Stanley)
Distance travelled since Immingham: 7937 NM
Air temperature: 8.7°C
Sea temperature: 6.4°C

The Week In Brief

You could say it's been a week of changing colours as we've sailed south westwards towards the Falkland Islands and Stanley. It started with lovely blue skies and calm seas of the tropics which soon turned grey and rough the more we headed south. Having said that as we write the sun has come out again and the calm seas have returned, but the distinct nip in the air tells us that things have changed for the cooler. The approach of our destination and our proximity to land have been marked by the increasing number of wildlife sightings enjoyed. First there were the majestic nomads of the oceans, the Wandering Albatrosses. They were soon joined by the Cape Pigeons and the Greyhead and Black Browed Albatrosses and then this morning we had our first sightings of seals and penguins. The pictures below show Captain Paterson, in teacher mode, taking a sight of Venus in a blue sky earlier in the week and the picture right is of a Greyhead Albatross over stormy seas. Click to enlarge.

Captain  Paterson. Click to enlarge.  
Greyhead Albatross. Click to enlarge.
Captain Paterson taking a sight of Venus. Click to enlarge  
Greyhead Albatross in stormy seas. Click to enlarge

There was a report that the rough weather was the work of someone caught whistling on deck by the Bosun, their punishment hasn't been recorded. Who says sailors are superstitious? - Touch wood!

Science Bit In The Middle - Atlantic Meridional Transect (AMT13)

So another cruise is almost over and it's that packing time once more. The labs fill with empty boxes only for them to leave once more full. Within a few days those spaces that have been a scene of so much activity over the last five weeks will be standing empty awaiting new occupants. So here we are bringing you a couple of final tasters of the science that has been conducted onboard. Deciding how to describe the science is often quite hard as much of it happens in test tubes and within the bowels of various machines on a cruise like this. The numbers that come tumbling out of them might send their owners into raptures, but don't always translate to the written word for us none science types. However, we try our best and here are some items that we hope will enlighten us all.


The ocean we see before us is generally blue in colour with changes to green, grey or brown dependant on our proximity to land and/or the weather. This is because pure water reflects blue light and if there is nothing to reflect the other colours then blue is all we see. Then satellites orbiting the earth looking down at this changing colour of the sea and using the data to interpret the amount of life and production within the oceans.

The image here is of Chlorophyll through out the Atlantic ocean. It's made up of images taken over several days by the satellite. The blues show low levels, while the highs are shown by the reds and yellows.

Chlorophyll Levels. Click to enlarge.

However, to make sense of the images from space, measurements are taken down here on earth to make sure we understand what the satellites are telling us. As apart of our work here we have optical instruments on the Ctd and a dedicated optics frame that you can see being deployed in the picture below. The back ground shows the midships gantry deploying the Ctd and the forward science crane with zooplankton nets "fishing" from it.

Over the side working!. Click to enlarge.
Over the side working!. Click to enlarge.

The frame's instruments give details of the waters optical properties along with information concerning make up of the water and the life living within it. However, what project that involves NASA would be complete without its very own rocket? So Chris Lowe displays his below. Unfortunately it isn't powered and only travels downwards through the water under the force of gravity. Though, apparently, it supplies lots of lovely numbers from the four radiometers that make up the edges of its wings. Two of which point down to measure the light being reflected upwards by the water below the rocket and two face up to measure the light penetrating from above. All the information collected helps us to understand the oceans and the life they contain. So in future the satellite images alone may be used to predict the health of huge areas of the oceans very quickly and accurately

The pictures below show Chris at our version of Cape Kennedy - Ready, Steady, FIRE! All that is with the power of one person! Don't worry there is a recovery device in the form of a cable which remains attached to the ship.

Chris and his rocket. Click to enlarge. Prepared for launch. Click to enlarge. FIRE!!!!. Click to enlarge.

Zooplankton - Paul's Party!

Last week we talked about Plankton in its various guises and thought afterwards how could we get some pictures to bring the variety of creatures to life for our readers. Then remembered that we'd forgotten all about Paul Hampton and his film studio. He's been busy throughout the cruise collecting and identifying animals for his experiments. Paul can be seen below in his version of the "Cutting Room" where he films zooplankton from his microscope.

Paul Hampton and his microscope. Click to enlarge.
Paul Hampton in front of his microscope where he filmed the following images. Click to enlarge.

Thanks to Paul and his production assistant Pat Cooper for allowing us to publish the stunning images below and, of course, Mother Nature for producing them.

Microscope image 1. Click to enlarge. Microscope image 2. Click to enlarge.
Microscope image 3. Click to enlarge. Microscope image 4. Click to enlarge.
Microscope image 5. Click to enlarge. Microscope image 6. Click to enlarge.

Yes it's all there throughout the oceans. A little something to think about next time you're down the beach paddling around.

Who's In Charge Then?

So who is then? Well on this cruise it's Carol Robinson from Plymouth Marine Labs (PML) and Carol is also the coordinator for the whole AMT project. I think the picture below displays a little relief that must be felt as the last Ctd comes back onboard. Yes the end is nigh and all those thoughts of lie-ins and a whole nights sleep are no longer just fantasies.

Carol our Chief Scientist. Click to enlarge.
Carol Robinson our Chief Scientist - The End Is Nigh! Click to enlarge.

For those of you keen to find out more about the science AMT have their own website at www.amt-uk.org and remember they will be back. Yes, AMT14 is coming to a webpage near you in April/May 2004.

DANGER - Doctor At Work!

Anyone need any decorating doing?. Click to enlarge.
Anyone need any decorating doing? Click to enlarge.

Emma's painting has been put to the test over the last couple of weeks, starting with fire hydrants, then a little stenciling and finally some varnishing. Though we could only show this picture as she has a hat on. Apparently she doesn't want to show her new hair cut to the world just yet. It was shortened the day after crossing the line (with permission), but the result was maybe a little shorter than planned! Watch this space for a picture! Though with several months of hat wearing is to come as the chill wind starts to blow, it could take a while....

A final thought and so Until Next week...

So how did your Monday morning start? Those doing the early morning station last Monday were treated to a stunning sunrise and we must thank Carol for the picture below.

How did you start Monday morning?. Click to enlarge.
How did you start Monday morning? Click to enlarge.

We leave you this week with Stanley in our sights. Our arrival is due for Tuesday, but if the weather holds we might even make it on Monday evening. That would be good, as the weather doesn't look good for us berthing if we have to wait until Tuesday. We then have several days in port discharging the cruise and moving things in readiness for the first logistics leg to South Georgia. Antarctica here we come!

But first we have the matter of a cruise dinner, the crossing the line movie and a few dodgy awards to get through! So until next week...