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Feb 24 - Autosub is lost

Noon Position : lat 75 27.7 S, long 26 50.0 W

Course made good: Variable

Air temperature @ noon today :  -3.9 degrees C

Sea temperature @ noon today :  -0.2 degrees C

Wind: Direction SW, Force 3


Lost - one yellow submarine!

Those of you who are eagle-eyed and read the papers may have noticed the story, Autosub is lost.  I'm afraid it is true.  On it's second mission of this trip, it was 17km under the ice shelf, returning towards the ship, when there was a complete failure.  The Autosub put out it's emergency signal to indicate that something was wrong and then tried to surface.  Of course, being under ice it was unable to reach the surface and we were unable to get to it.  Unfortunately the team don't know what caused the sub to stop and they are unlikely to find out.  Undeterred by this small problem the Autosub team have already started building the next model!  The rest of the science has also continued as planned.  Most of the data that has been gathered has been via CTD (Conductivity, Temperature, Depth) sampling.  This will help to describe the water column profile adjacent to the ice shelf.

CTD Some of the more challenging CTDs were whilst we were in the pack ice.  Here, the ship makes a patch of clear water and the CTD is put through it.  As the CTD is brought up to the surface, ice must be cleared from the gap so that it is not damaged as it is lifted out.

CTD One of the ways of doing this is to put the CTD over the stern of the ship, instead of the side.  In this photo the CTD is being lifted back onto the ship (and all the water is draining off it).

CTDing at night Science stops for nothing.  Here are the team doing CTDs overnight.

Snowball practise Between stations there is time to practise your aim for the next days snowball fight.


Dredging for Beasties

As well as the water sampling, we got the chance to photograph the sea bed.  This uses video and a stills camera within a heavy duty frame (scaffolding poles), which is lowered via the midships gantry until it is suspended just above the sea bed.  The ship then moves forward very slowly as footage is taken.  The film can then be used to analyse the fauna that lives in this area.  As well as photographing it the biologists like to try and catch it.  This was done using a dredging net over the stern of the ship.  Once the net is retrieved the mud and rocks are washed out using a hose and what is left are the beasties. For more information on this science see the SOC web-page.

Dredge Brian Bett peering into the dredge to see if they have caught anything interesting.  Mostly mud and rocks by the look of it!  This is a rock dredge, so called because it has metal link 'armour' so that the rocks don't break the net.

It wasn't only rocks and mud after all.  Here are two of the beasties that were in the net.  In true fisherman style the large octopus that was -------this------- big, got away by falling off the outside of the net.

Sea-pen Sea-pen (scale; it is about 7cm long)

Sea cucumber Holothurian psolus or sea cucumber to us plebs!(scale; it is about 5cm long)


Wildlife Corner

Emperor penguins As promised last week, pictures of Emperor Penguins.  These were seen from the ship and are busy trying to run away at the same time as looking over their shoulders at the big red thing that is passing by.  They have never seen anything quite like it before!

Emperor penguins More Emperor Penguins.  What makes one ice floe more attractive than another?  We couldn't quite work out what a penguin des. res. would be, but this is obviously it.

Minke whale  Here is the best picture we have of a Minke Whale, so far.  It is a Minke Whale, honest!  They are very difficult to snap, by the time you have seen it and pointed the camera at it, it is gone.  Thankyou to Martin Stott and Nick Hughes for the use of their photos.


Holidays

Zen Garden Some of us have been away from home for quite a while now and are thinking of grass and trees!  Here is our miniature Zen garden (a small box of sand with some pebbles and a rake) that we have modified to cheer ourselves up.  The addition of palm tree and beach towel makes it much more enjoyable.

Sunset But then who needs cheering up when this is the real view.....?

This week we aim to travel further south, towards the Brunt ice shelf and then the Filchner ice shelf.  Firstly we would like to pickup some moorings that have been off the ice shelf for a couple of years and then we will move on to do some work on the sea ice.  We will also pick up some passengers who need a lift home from Halley!  Goodbye until next week.