"Today we are hovering over the second site Darwin, a mud volcano at a depth of 1100m. I spent most of the morning in the Isis van where the images from the ocean bed are projected. There are 3 people operating Isis. The engineer who has the important job of making sure it is on the correct track and the cable is at the correct tension; the pilot who drives it with a joystick, and a third person who uses the manipulator arms to pick things up and put things down. There have been some stunning images, one of a scabbard fish catching its prey, a sun fish swimming along, specialised muscles in the crater and some close footage of crinoid (sea lilies) encrusted rock. There are some video clips for you to look at of these - click here. What Isis was doing today was a video transect which is constant video footage which is then carefully analysed back on board and in even more detail back at Southampton University. It does this at every site.
On deck there were some petrels. They are tiny little birds, most probably on a migration route. They attracted a hawk so at dawn there was a flurry of activity. Unfortunately later on they collided with the mast. The mast also provides a resting spot for the passing pigeons."
"There are 52 people on board this ship: Officers, engineers, the catering crew, scientists and observers, technicians, seamen… Sometimes I still get surprised because I see a new face in the mess or in the deck (Has this man been in the ship all these days?). As you can see, sometimes, I still feel a little bit confused…
It was last Sunday when the ship sailed from Vigo’s harbour. In these seven days so many things have happened on board that seems like a very long time since we said goodbye to mainland! The science team haven’t stopped working. It is maybe that the cores were coming up or Isis was exploring the seabed. A lot of times I have met some of them along the alleyways of the ship with tired faces, because they had to work overnight. Yesterday late night I helped in the Chemistry lab labelling samples. At last Monday’s science meeting I realised that the scientist spent more than half hour dealing about how to label all the samples! Now I understand why. They have been collecting so many, and this is just the first week!
I am starting to get used to life on board. I wake up every day about seven. After quick shower I have breakfast (an authentic English breakfast!). Then is when Gill and I usually meet to talk about the day’s work. Next is time to check if there is any core coming up or what is going on in the van (the Isis command cabin). The work starts. ‘Go to the deck. At the chemistry lab there is something interesting. Take photos of that rock. Is the Isis working? At that time there is a mega-core! Film with the camera the seaman working! Write it. Come back to the lab…’ Some days we achieve what we have decided to do but, generally, we improvise. We don’t stop during the day. After dinner, it is time to write the diary. Before going to sleep, Gill and I try to remember all the things that had happened during the day. We have a lot to talk about!
This afternoon Isis has brought up a fragment of a rock from the seabed. It has plenty of little holes occupied by small animals like clams (bivalves), small crustaceans and worms. Paul, Ana and Andrey have been examining it in detail..."