As the newest member of the SAMS (Scottish Association for Marine Science) Glider and Moorings Team I was given the last minute opportunity to join the ship after a space opened up. I have been on cruises before but this is my first one since finishing my undergraduate degree in Marine Science earlier this summer. It’s finally time to lose the safety net of being a student and start working in the real world again, so after some last minute jiggling of commitments it was time to leave for Iceland and a month at sea.
Home for the next month is Woods Hole’s research vessel R.V. Knorr. Unlike the British ships the Knorr is a dry vessel with no bar onboard, which for once I am glad of. After the post-university partying that I have had recently, an alcohol free month is most welcome. There are other differences from the UK vessels, such as the meal times. These have been offering some of us Brits a delight of new culinary experiences. Corn dogs, sloppy joes and rutabaga are not normally found on the UK menu. The S’mores earlier last week proved to be a particular favourite of one the SAMS party, I think it is safe to say that my SAMS colleague Clare has been converted.
My working day has so far consisted of preparing for the SAMS mooring deployments next week. We are using a number of different instruments on each mooring to measure the water salinity, temperature, pressure and the currents. Each of these must be fitted with batteries, checked for its water tight integrity and programmed with its required sampling routine for its next year under the sea.
The SAMS group is deploying three conventional moorings and one trawl-resistant benthic mooring, aka “The Spaceship”. With a low profile and sloping sides the Spaceship is designed to house an ADCP (acoustic doppler current profiler) that measures water current in areas of high fishing activity.
Luckily for me our moorings have been planned for the second week giving me the opportunity to familiarise myself with the equipment and the workings of the deck. Our moorings are planned for the Rockall Trough part of the Scottish western continental shelf. So after flying to Reykjavik from Glasgow we will be almost in sight of the Scottish Western Isles only to turn around and sail west again.
Next week we will also be deploying a Seaglider for its six month survey of the waters of the North Atlantic. This is the piece of equipment that I am most excited about as I will begin my training as a glider pilot/technician on my return to Scotland. Capable of diving to depths of 1000m the Seaglider will relay temperature and salinity profiles to our base at SAMS via satellite after each dive.
With over one week at sea already this cruise is proving to be an excellent way to start my career in marine science.