The scientists and crew of Scotia worked hard in difficult conditions to complete the last monitoring survey of the year before returning to port on 23 December, just in time for Christmas. Marine Scotland would like to thank all of the crew and scientists on board for their hard work and dedication to make the trip a success. Here are a few extracts from their messages to give a flavour of the work that was undertaken.
Comments from John Dunn’s messages. Edited by Sarah Hughes and Bill Turrell
The weather so far has been poor. The JONSIS line [a standard hydrographic section running eastwards out from Orkney into the North Sea] was completed and then we spent a few days trying to move position to avoid the worst of the weather whilst still carrying on with the cruise programme.
The weather seems to be easing off slightly and we are currently working along the Fair Isle – Munken line [a standard hydrographic section running between Scotland and Faroe] , sampling using the CTD [measures temperature, salinity and depth as it is lowered below a vessel] and ARIES [a device invented in Aberdeen to sample plankton at great depths]. The scientists and crew of Scotia were joined by some Pilot whales as we tried to recover some of the current meter moorings from the seabed. One of the moorings was successfully recovered but the other one didn’t reply and some time was spent using recovery equipment in an attempt to retrieve it.
Today the ship continued along the Fair Isle – Munken line where the deepest station is 1076 metres. We were kept busy processing the large numbers of plankton and water samples that come from such a deep tow. The weather is freshening again, but due to calm down a bit tomorrow.
No luck in finding the missing mooring yet. We are working hard onboard the ship, examining copepod samples using a microscope, often a difficult task when the plankton in the sample are still moving and so is the ship!
Some more bad luck onboard with the failure of a flow meter (that was able to be fixed) and a water sampler (that wasn’t). Despite the setbacks we continued sampling along a new line between Munken in Faroe and Cape Wrath in Scotland. Snow, ice and more bad weather made conditions uncomfortable for the samplers. Despite the difficult conditions a new mooring was successfully deployed and we travelled northward to continue sampling.
Finally the weather has calmed down a little and conditions onboard have become a little easier. The lost mooring had to be abandoned as despite another search it was not to be found. Despite the bad weather we have managed to sample along all of the planned lines and have time to do a little more work before heading home for Christmas.