Having joined the research cruise in Cork a few days ago I’ve been settling into my cabin, the new routine and the realization that I will be away at sea for the next four weeks. A bit daunting if you’re a first-timer like me, but everyone has gone out of their way to explain everything and make us welcome.
Today, we have finally arrived on site, which meant it was time to deploy several exciting instruments. This might sound fairly straightforward but in reality it can be quite daunting to watch thousands of pounds worth of equipment being dropped over the side of the ship and the scientists rely on the experience and finesse of the technicians and the crew.
Today we deployed the US Naval Electronic Lab (USNEL) Box Corer which collects large samples of sediment from the seabed. The corer is lowered by wire into the sea and its design allows a free flow of water through the frame, which helps with a speedy descent.
Late last night the team deployed a CTD and as soon as it had been recovered several hours later, we set to work collecting and analysing the samples. We are looking at the composition of the phytoplankton that lives in surface waters and how they might be influenced by climate change.
This morning the technical team used an acoustic release system to free the sediment traps that were deployed at the PAP site from the research vessel Celtic Explorer in September 2010. Principal Scientist Henry Ruhl and Marine Technician Corinne Pebody watched from the bridge until the PAP 3 buoys, on the traps, were spotted.
On Monday most folks in the science party started research activity when we reached Goban Spur where we collected water and sediment samples. The sampling tubes on the mega corer fill with sediment as the instrument lands on the sea bed.