Yesterday evening we finally arrived at the ice edge and thus beginning the marine science leg of our voyage in earnest. Our first destination was a polynya (a large area of open water in the sea ice) at about 66 degrees south, near Mirny Station (run by the Russians). We spent most of the night travelling through the sea ice and then into the centre of the polynya before turing around and heading back north. The zooplankton team deployed an RMT net (Rectangular Midwater Trawl, for catching zooplankton) this morning and caught some krill, so their research us now up and running. There will be a lot more of those trawls to come and they will work with the people taking acoustics measurements (looking at what is in the water underneath us) to sample any large ‘blobs’ that may be swarms of krill or other zooplankton species.
The sea ice sparked much excitement amongst the people on board and it was very nice to see something other than open ocean. It now feels like we’re in Antarctica again. The main requirement this evening was wildlife spotting with individual tallies of penguin, seal, bird and whale observations. Only one whale observation was made but the penguins (both Adelie & emperor), seals and other seabirds were frequently seen throughout the night.
One of my key tasks for the last 2 days is to transition my sleeping pattern to working the night shift. During the marine science section of the voyage everyone has moved to 24hr operation so that there are a team of people ready whenever we arrive at a new sampling station. I’m working the 8pm – 8am shift now, which is much easier said than done. I’ve been keeping myself up until 4am the first night and then 8am last night/this morning but the last few hours of each shift have been pretty tough. I’m fortunate to be in a cabin with no porthole, which makes sleeping during the day much easier but its been very hard to sleep for a full 8 hrs. Today I woke up at 3.30pm, which is a good 7hrs sleep but I will have to try and sneak in a nap later this evening before I start to keep me going all night. I’m not good at sleeping on demand so we shall see. I believe our first CTD cast will be happening sometime tonight so the work will help time pass much quicker.