17 December 2003

Back to the "land" of bob…

As you might expect for the Southern Ocean, the wind has vacillated from 10 to over 40 knots, with seas ranging from lots of pitch to lots of roll to a smooth 'slop'. Most have settled in now to the second week of the voyage. We are in a steady routine of eating, sleeping, eating, sleeping, sometimes wandering the bridge and the deck, eating, sleeping, watching birds, eating, rolling right, rolling left, eating, sleeping.

Trials are out of the way with everything now under control (or as much as they can be). We saw some great fish come up with the trial net trawl. Some deep sea critters from 500 m with very long teeth and lots of light spots. They are not very big, smaller than your forearm but bizarre none the less. We even captured some squid, prawns and some cute little 'eyeballs' (ostracods). Of course, there were some little shrimp-like things that we only just managed to identify as krill (Euphausia vallentini). There was another type of krill but we didn't know what that was. One beastie (like a miniature lobster) right out of Aliens was no bigger than your thumbnail, white and translucent and waiving two big claws (bigger than its head) from side to side. It was found inside the mouth of a fish. There will be much more of that to come.

We have just started shift work. Our first 'shot' to measure the chemistry, temperature and density of water at different depths (CTD) was made last night just as the weather broke up (again). It takes about 4 hours and Ian managed the ship well to keep the CTD equipment on the end of over 3000 m of cable intact. We are now coming up towards the Heard Island/Kerguelen Plateau and will take one more CTD shot in 3000 m of water before starting a series of shots up onto the plateau area.

With the good weather, two of the shore camps were successfully established yesterday from the Southern Supporter. The main camp will be established tomorrow (fingers crossed). Tracks of king and macaroni penguins will hopefully be coming in tomorrow. The fun begins! We now just need to match up the foraging tracks with what we see from the ship.

Everything is shaping up well. The marine science support team have done a great job getting our act together. Their nightly DVDs are a boon for those of us who see one movie a decade. Some movies are forgettable – the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen will have great trouble being beaten on that score (interesting to note was that they made a track in Captain Nemo's Nautilus directly for Heard Island). But then some are destined for reshowing, such as Finding Nemo - needless to say, the birdos now wander the bridge blurting 'mine', 'mine'…

All for now.