South Atlantic

Groundhog Day

It’s 3 am, the phone rings and the day begins. You force yourself into a not-quite-dry immersion suit and boots, get out on deck and grimace as the polar wind blows its choice of rain, hail or snow in your face.

Acoustic calibration

I always enjoy calibrating the acoustic instruments on our research vessels around South Georgia. It usually means taking the ship into a sheltered harbour called Stromness Bay. As you enter the bay you enjoy stunning views of three now uninhabited whaling stations (Leith, Stromness and Husvik), fur seals and penguins huffing and puffing on the beaches, and entertain some small satisfaction of looking at the salvation of Shackleton’s epic rescue of his crew of the Endurance, stranded 800 miles away on Elephant Island. 

Nets nets and more nets!

You can never have too many nets, so we’ve gone for 4 net systems with a total of 22 nets! The plan being to try and find out what small marine animals are living in the mesopelagic and if they are migrating up and down the water column. So far, we’ve had all of our nets in the water, catching everything from tiny copepods to small lanternfish. Each net system has multiple nets which we can set to open and close at different depths so we can figure out where the different animals are living.

First time at Sea

Going to sea as part of the COMICS program, especially to the South Atlantic/Southern Ocean, for the first time within the first month of my PhD was an exciting opportunity (with a little apprehension also!). My friends and family researched what the weather would be like and came back informing me that the waves would be huge and it would be freezing cold, they were half right.

Ocean robots survey the ocean's particles

The COMICS expedition is all about understanding how material sinking from the ocean surface contributes to carbon storage in the ocean.  You might think that means we have to actually catch the sinking material to study it.  We do that too, but we can also get information about the particles in the water using ocean robots.  Filipa and I have the job of looking after ocean gliders - autonomous underwater vehicles that can survey the ocean for months at a time without needing a ship.

Sitting in the heart of the South Georgia bloom

Its now a little less than a week since we sailed and we are now sitting in the heart of the South Georgia bloom, one of the largest and most sustained open ocean phytoplankton blooms on the planet, and a major natural sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide.