Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry blog

Showing posts with label DY034. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DY034. Show all posts

Monday 7 September 2015


By Sebastian Sims

Cruise DY034 has now come to an end, and with it the end of most Shelf Seas Biogeochemistry Programme field work.

From my perspective, this cruise has been a resounding success. Not only have I learnt a lot of scientific procedures and successfully sampled from CTDs, but also the other scientists have given me a good understanding of their work. I thoroughly enjoyed occasionally helping out with coring and trawling, as I found it fascinating to see the benthic fauna up close. I also enjoyed analysing some of the seafloor photos taken by Autosub. I was interested by the principles behind getting profiles of oxygen and iron concentrations in sediments, nutrient analysis, learning about multibeam and sidescan sonar mapping, as well as the role of gliders and benthic landers in collecting observations independently from the ship.

 Outside of the science, this cruise has been a great experience in itself. The stunning sunrises and sunsets, meteor shower and seeing dolphins for the first time kept me going through the tougher days. I have also met a load of great people, who have all made me feel very welcome, and it would be a pleasure to work alongside any of them in the future.

I would like to thank all of the scientists, technicians and crew who made all of this possible. I know more than ever about what it means to be a marine scientist. For all those who have not been on a research cruise before, I would recommend it with the upmost enthusiasm.

I am shortly going to return to my studies, and I await my next cruise opportunity with great anticipation.

Tuesday 1 September 2015

Heading back to Southampton

We've now finished our SSB sampling and we are headed towards Southampton. Many of us are now transitioning from taking and processing samples and preparing equipment for use, to writing up reports and packing for mobilisation back to our respective home labs.

Sea Creatures: Sabellidae
Our thoughts often mix between reflecting on the expedition to getting back to our lives ashore. It's nonetheless a critical time as we want to ensure that all the work we've done has been well documented and that samples and data are archived properly so they can be of best use for years to come.

Below are some additional images of the sea creatures we found in the Celtic Sea during our sampling.
Sea Creatures: Octopod

Sea Creatures: Polychaete Sea Mouse

Sunday 30 August 2015

Working on the night shift

The scientists on RRS Discovery work all hours.  The ship is expensive to run and the Shelf Seas Biogeochemistry (SSB) Project has a lot of different tasks to achieve and it would not be possible to do this without working 24 hours a day.

What this means is that a small fraction of the scientists and crew on board need to adjust to working during the night. The shift that I have been allocated runs from 6 pm to 6 am. Getting into the swing of it is hard as your body clock adjusts but this is the third cruise in this project where I have been asked to work the night shift so I am getting used to it.  There are a few downsides: we miss all lunches and most breakfasts (although food is left out for us), we don’t see that much sunlight, and everyone’s day finishes as ours begins but there are lots of positives.

1.-   Sunset

Sunsets at sea are spectacular things.  The air is clear, the sky turns multi-coloured and the light reflects off the clouds. 

A spectacular sunset.
 2.- The big fauna comes out at night

 A lot of the larger creatures like the cover of darkness. So far on this cruise we’ve seen two different types of shark, a sunfish, dolphins, a whale, garfish and many jellyfish. A lot of the fauna get attracted to the lights on the boat that shine on the water while we are working. This means that as they approach the boat they are easy to spot. We regularly watch dolphins play around our sediment corer as it hits the water.

3.- The lab is quieter
The controlled temperature laboratory we use on board is possibly the busiest part of the ship.  It is a small lab in the middle of the ship where we keep the sediment we collect that is kept at the same temperature as the bottom of the sea. There are ten people working in there and bench and floor space is very limited.  All the space that will be used is planned out months in advance but when lots of people are working in there it can become very cramped. During the night shift the majority of those who use the lab are asleep so we get the chance to work knowing we won’t be in anyone’s way.

4.- Getting involved with everyone’s work
Because there are so few people working at night we all help to collect each other’s samples.  Over the three cruises I have had the chance to trawl for epibenthic megafauna (looking for large rarer invertebrates that live on the sediment surface), use a sediment profile imager (SPI) to make cross section images of the sediment water interface and helped deploy a large in situ flume (a device that sits on the seabed and creates a current that runs in a circle to look at how the mud and sand behave under different conditions).

SPI camera,
5.- Snacktime
The kitchen does not run 24 hours, so when we work nights there is no lunch put on. We eat dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner.  You can get lunch put aside but sometimes it’s more fun to create snacks from the leftovers of dinner, toast and buffet bar. Salad mountains, rum and raisin ice-cream granola, peanut butter, jam, banana and nutella sandwiches, potato salad baps, and anything you fancy.

6.- Sunrise
The sunrises are as spectacular as the sunsets, with the added knowledge that the nights work is almost over and it’s nearly time for bed as everyone else gets up.