Sunday, 27 January
What an exciting day! Not only because of the storm, but especially because of the amphipod traps which we had almost given up on and left on the sea floor for two months. Today we got them back. This was due to the Captain´s great expertise, the board electrician´s genius and a good portion of luck, with the storm allowing us a little time before it pushed the wave heights over 7 metres.
It was not easy. When we worked on our first station near the beginning of this voyage, the traps did not respond to the ship’s signals. At that time, they had been on the ground for some 12 hours. There was nothing we could do, time was in short supply, and we proceeded without retrieving the trap. We had planned from the very beginning to revisit this station to answer the big SYSTCO question concerning the effect of plankton blooms on the sea floor. And we did return, with a large storm at our heels. The retrieval of the trap was a race against weather and time.
When the trap finally responded to the ship’s signals, the waves had already reached a height of 4 metres. We knew now that it would come to the surface. We were a little bit relieved already, but to spot the small trap in the churning seas would be difficult.
While the trap was travelling toward the surface, our epibenthic sledge META had nearly come back from sampling. The waves entered the deck from the stern and nearly washed our buckets and tubs off the deck. The boatswain and deck’s crew were very much aware of the difficult conditions and did their very best to get META out of the waves and provide safe working conditions for us. When the sledge was nearly on board, it started to dance on the waves just like the ship and crashed noisily against the board wall before the men could secure it. A few more bumps in her steel frame...
We rushed to secure the samples and take them inside for sorting. The crew was needed urgently to retrieve the trap. As soon as META was securely fastened to the Polarstern, everybody went to look out for the trap, and the ship was brought into position. The Captain and his first officer worked a small wonder in maneuvering the ship as close as possible to the trap to allow the crew to fish it out of the heavy seas without getting into danger. Just shortly before the work deck had to be closed for security reasons, all gear had returned!
Saskia Brix, Senckenberg
Photos: E. Sauter, Alfred Wegener Institute
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Thursday, 31 January 2008 08:03
Adventure Day? Adventure Cruise!Written by Polarstern Expedition
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