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Aug 10 - Time Flies

Date: Sunday10th August 2003

Position at 1200 BST 51°28'N 006°25'W

Wind: N x W x Force 4
Barometric pressure: 1020.1
Sea state: Moderate/slight
Air temperature: 17.5° C
Sea temperature: 18.3°C
Weather: Good visibility, overcast, fine and clear. Vessel sitting quietly to moderate/slight sea and low swell.

The past week seems to have flown by onboard the James Clark Ross. Throughout the period the sea state has been very kind to us, with very little movement of the vessel. The downside was that whilst the whole of the UK was enjoying some of the best weather on record, the ship spent much of the week shrouded in fog, with it only lifting on Saturday afternoon.

image here Fog!

However, the fog was not a deterrent for wildlife, which proved to be plentiful throughout the week. There was a lone minke whale sighted, along with two two pods of pilot whales. The best shows came from the common dolphin, who seemed to take great delight in spending time in our company. Numbers varied from just a few, to on occasions more than twenty. Often when looking out of a window one could be seen leaping from the water, or following the ship as we steamed slowly along. Even as I sit and write this page I am called to the Bridge as another whale is spotted!

image here Dolphins at the bow.

image here Dolphins leaping.

image here
The common dolphin varies much in appearance and more than 20 species have been proposed over the years, although only a single species is recognised at present, they are often found in large, active schools. Jumping and splashing can be seen and also heard from a considerable distance. Several members of a group will often surface together. School size varies seasonally and according to the time of day. They can range in size from about 1.8m to 2.4m and most have the easily recognised hourglass pattern on their sides.

Also joining us during the week were a number of small birds and butterflies (a red admiral stayed overnight in the Radio Room).

With the end of the fog came this beautiful sky colouring on Saturday evening:
image here

This week has also seen a number of presentations held onboard. On Wednesday evening a talk and slide show on Antarctica was held (many of the scientists onboard have not been 'South'), followed on Thursday with a scientific presentation on remote sensing, and finally on Saturday evening with a slide show and talk on Northern India.

Science has continued, with CTD's, Sea Soar and Optics, throughout the week.

image here The CTD about to be lowered into a calm sea.

Whilst 'on station' or towing equipment, the vessel is restricted in its ability to maneuver and there are a number of methods used to convey this to other shipping in the vicinity. During daylight hours, when visibility is good, navigation shapes are used. These are in the form of a ball, diamond, ball, hanging vertically, as can be seen below. On the JCR they are hung from the Main Mast, as shown below. Also displayed are a series of navigation lights, which can clearly be seen at night. If there is a lot of shipping in the vicinity, then a radio broadcast may also be made.

image here Navigation shapes - Ball, Diamond, Ball.

This, alas, is our last week of the current science cruise. In the early hours of Wednesday morning it is intended to recover the moorings that were laid in the first days of this cruise, and then the ship will steam to Cork, arriving on Thursday morning.

The scientists onboard will leave the vessel to return home on Friday morning, and BAS scientists will join the vessel on Friday and prepare for sailing on Saturday evening. The next cruise will be to trial equipment. More on this next week.

MEPG