CD179: Deep-sea biology of the Portguese canyons


Daily diary

Sunday 7 May 2006

Jeroen writes:

"Sometimes people ask me what in God’s name we’re actually doing on board a ship during a deep-sea cruise. A bit hesitantly, I explain what and how (at least for the megacorer):

“Well, we deploy a very well designed piece of metal equipment loaded with 12 plexiglass tubes into the ocean, whilst the ship is bobbing up and down. We (actually, the winch man does) let it go down for over 4km on a steel cable and expect the thing to push the cores under its own weight into the (hopefully) muddy sea floor, after which we carefully haul it back up. When everything goes as planned, the corer comes out of the ocean with 12 tubes nicely filled with mud…”

“Mud?” they say, frowning

“Yeah, mud”, I reply

”That sounds easy…”

“Well it isn’t....”, I continue with an expression a colleague once used “……it’s like kissing your own elbow ……try it!”

They have their own thoughts about it and make excuses and while walking away, you notice their head drop while raising an arm…..

We’re at the Nazaré canyon, at the same station that was sampled last summer during the Discovery 297 cruise. The past night was one filled with misfortune, the SHRIMP failed to communicate with the on-board equipment and after unwinding and rolling on again over 8.5 km of optical cable, communication was still down. Plans had to be changed and we faced a complete day of megacoring. However, with about four hours in between, there’s enough time to process the cores and read or work a bit on the computer. When it’s a sunny day as today, people tend to prefer reading a book out on deck…

Only a few usable cores were recovered from the two deployments performed during daylight and while recovering the third cast the night-people woke up and got ready to do their magic… Hopefully Neptune is good-tempered tonight!"


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April 2006
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