Mar 10 - From Burdwood Bank to Jubany
From Burdwood Bank to Jubany
Time has seemed to fly by since I last finished a diary page for you all, but a lot has happened in the meantime. When you last left us, the ship was on its way south after a productive couple of days trawling on Burdwood Bank. After 2 days steaming, the James Clark Ross arrived at it's next work station at 60 degrees South. Here, a number of CTDs were cast, collecting sea water and, importantly, the bacteria it contained, from a variety of depths. (to be explained in a future episode of this cruise) Time wise, this was a mere pit stop in the ship's journey around the Scotia Sea, and after only a few hours the ship continued on its way, to arrive off Livingston Island on 3rd March.
Science started on arrival, with a CTD in the water and at its maximum depth of 1500 metres before breakfast. This would be the first of 4 stations here, as explained last week, at 1500, 1000, 500 and 200 metres depth. After this, trawling continued all day, with the final trawl a great success. Admittedly, all the samples in the trawl were contained in approximately 200kg of mud, leading to a long evening of washing and sieving on the aft deck of the ship. The whole job was a worthwhile, if messy, process, and once the samples were clean, it was the turn of the science staff to wash themselves, as well as the whole deck.
4th March was to be a repeat of the day before, though with the trawling being undertaken at increasingly shallower depths. It was on the first EBS (epibenthic sledge) trawl of the day that there would be problems, with one of the runners being presumably damaged by an unseen rock deep on the ocean floor. This lead to a spot of on-site welding by Tom, the ships 4th Engineer. After this was expertly undertaken, trawling resumed after lunch at the final two depths for this site and everything was back, and lashed down on deck, by early evening.
The next stop was to be Deception Island, though on the way there the ship would undertake a swath survey of a proposed trawl site for the 'Fish Team'. At 0720 the next morning that the ship passed through 'Neptune's Bellows' (a very narrow navigable passage into the partially-submerged volcano), and was positioned on D.P. in Whalers Bay, in view of the old, and now partially-dismantled whaling station. This was to be another busy day, with a great deal of tasks being undertaken at the same time. The first scientists off the ship were the shore party, collecting moss specimens to be analysed back in Cambridge after the cruise. Next was the turn of the dive team, who were to dive at 4 separate sites within the caldera through the day. The 3 individuals specifically interested in collecting fish specimens also deployed their Trammel Nets from the ship's cargo tender, at two sites on opposite sides of the caldera. Those individuals not specifically involved with the work in progress were given the opportunity to get ashore and stretch their legs for the first time since leaving Stanley. Even once all the divers and shore party were back on board, the work for the day was still not quite finished. After dinner an EBS trawl was undertaken across the caldera itself, in-between moorings deployed previously by a US team of researchers.
The next day was to be one for the 'Fish Team'. Straight after breakfast a group went out in the Cargo Tender to retrieve the nets, left in place overnight. The success of the catch, with respect to the target species was such that the decision was made to re-deploy them for a second night. After redeployment, the ship steamed out of Deception Island, passing Chinstrap Penguins, Humpback Whales and Orcas on the way, and then around to its northwest side, which had been swathed two nights previously, to use the Otter Trawl. This was highly productive for the team as a whole, particularly for Jan, the Octopus Specialist on board, if not for the 'Fish Team' themselves.
It was not possible to get back into Deception before dark, so the ship stayed outside the caldera overnight, running a swath bathymetry survey, passing back through Neptune's Bellows at 0800, in increasingly grim weather. The two Trammel Nets were retrieved using the cargo tender, to have the successful catch removed later on the aft deck once the ship was on its way. The ship was now off on a journey which would take about 6 hours, to Potter Cove, the location of Jubany, the Argentinean Base. The plan had been to go ashore and visit the base for advice on dive sites, but the weather had continued to deteriorate throughout the journey. By the time the ship arrived the wind was gusting to 60+knots and travel to base by Humber was not an option. The JCR would thus stay offshore, on D.P., awaiting a change in the weather, but that you will have to wait another week or so to read about.
And Now To a Spot From the Science Team
This week with Dave Barnes
I am what I have always wanted to be, a marine biologist. They come in lots of different forms, and my one is studying the animals that live on the shore and just below it to see what we can learn about and from this ecosystem. Usually when I go to Antarctica to work, I travel to a research station Signy in the 1990’s and Rothera since then. On this trip I have joined a team of great scientists, of all ages and interests, to explore a chain of mountains (most of which are below sea level) stretching from South America to Antarctica. This chain is called the Scotia Arc and is a very special place. Only here, at this latitude, does ocean go all the way round the globe, leading to some big winds, waves and a current that completely circles a continent. To marine biologists and other scientists it is very exciting as it comprises young and old islands, currently active volcanos, some of the most isolated and rugged shorelines and one of the most rapidly warming areas in the world. Our journey began in the Falkland Islands and for me by retrieving an experiment I set up two years ago to investigate how quickly the shoreline is colonized by animals and how many types are doing this, that is the biodiversity of young shore communities. I can compare these results with other similar experiments running elsewhere including in Antarctica. When the ship departs I may not set foot on land again for two months, the longest I will ever have been at sea, but as one of the diving team I will, at some places, put on breathing apparatus (SCUBA) and venture beneath the sea surface. I am part of a small team investigating the evolution and development of biodiversity and the large scale patterns of where animals live and why (Biogeography). We are trawling nets to catch a snapshot of the variety of life that lives at 1500, 1000, 500 and 200 m depth. On land Antarctica is a desert with few species of animals but underwater it is rich, with many animal types being better represented here than in most places. Sampling around the Scotia Arc will help me and the team I am in build up a picture of where life is very rich and where it is poorer, and by comparisons of richness to island age and isolation – colonization rates. By analysing patterns of animal distributions together with data we, or others, have collected before it will help us to understand how different animal groups colonized Antarctica millions of years ago, how they responded to its isolation and cooling and more recently how they coped with repeated ice ages covering their habitat – the continental shelf. When we dive we will be trying to collect some specific animals to investigate how they might cope with the predicted warming of the Southern Ocean that has emerged from climate change models and increasingly appearing from our monitoring of ocean temperatures. We will also be looking to see whether species from elsewhere in the world have managed to arrive and establish in Antarctica. Our voyage will take us onto some of the most studied, King George Island, and least studied, South Sandwich Islands and should provide me and the team with more data than we can shake a stick at. It truly should prove a voyage of discovery and for me a trip that I have waited for 18 years as an Antarctic scientist to make.
Some of this Weeks Samples
And Now to Meet some of the other Scientists and Crew
More of the crew in all their glory Next Week