Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Final update

one of the ship's constant arctic fulmar companions
Friday, 19 August 2011, I had the afternoon to explore one of the fjords opening into Cumberland Sound for a CTD cast. This one had the largest river in the area, so, I thought it might be interesting. It was part of the un-charted areas, so we went in slowly with the ship until there was about 7 m of water. Then, three of us loaded into the zodiac with the CTD and 400 m of line (I thought it could get much deeper further in, plus I didn't want to cut the line). The fjord hid behind a chain of islands (the largest was Kekertelung Island), so we still had a long way to go. At the fjord mouth, a sand bar blocked our way – it got so shallow the boat motor was hitting the ground. I never saw sand anywhere in the area, it was just rocks right down and into the water, even the echo sounder on the ship returned a hard signal, indicating there were rocks below the surface. I can only guess that the sand came from the river. We had to turn around so, I picked a near by bay for the cast. The water turned out to be over 80 m deep with a thick fresh water layer on top. When we got back on the ship, we headed back into Pangurtung to refuel.

Sunday, 21 August 2011 – Kevin and I were shown how to take samples of jellyfish and preserve them for future study. We dropped a zooplankton net (a fine round net slightly larger than an umbrella) down to the bottom and hauled it back up. Once back on board, everything inside was washed down into a collecting bucket which happened to be black. We caught some jelly fish – little ones about the size and shape of a thimble. Against the dark of the bucket, they flashed blue, purple and green.

Monday, 22 August 2011 – We were stuck in Pangurtung another day for reasons outside my control. I was offered the opportunity to go ashore, so I took it (I can only hang around so long on such a small ship without getting bored). The ship's captain wanted to find buckets he could use to empty the bilges and our best option was to check out the dump. Everything in Pangurtung is in walking distance, so we set out on foot (plus I needed the exercise). The dump was full of what looked like still usable stuff – a barbie doll still with a full head of hair, a pair of children's rubber boots with no sign of wear and so on. There were buckets, but no lids, so we left empty handed.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011 – We left anchor to retrieve my mooring. Unfortunately, the wind had picked up and there was significant swell in the sound. Some waves were greater than 5 m. Once near the mooring we started with a CTD cast (to check the moored instruments against), then we took some water samples. It was too rough to attempt to catch jelly fish. By this point, a scientist and a crew member had succumbed to sea sickness and I wasn't feeling so good myself. Water was now washing across the back deck on each large wave and everything lashed down was beginning to shift in scary ways. Using the ship's sonar, the mooring float 30 m below the surface was located and as soon as we got close, we let the acoustic release go. Soon, the orange float popped up and we grabbed it and started pulling the mooring on board. As soon as it was secure, we all went inside and the ship headed for a sheltered cove (Brown Harbour) to wait out the storm a anchor. That night winds reached 54 knots.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011 – In the morning I downloaded the instruments from the mooring, reset them, then built a new mooring to stay out for the winter. By the early afternoon, the wind had dropped, so we ventured back into the sound to deploy the mooring. This time, we set it up so we just needed to flake out the mooring behind us and cut a single line to release the anchor. We only needed to slow down, not stop. As soon as it was deployed, we headed back to Pangurtung for a crew change.

Friday, 26 August 2011 – I finally got a day to do CTD casts in one location (I'd been asking to do this since I arrived on board). The casts took about 12 minutes each and I did one on the hour for 12 hours. I'm hoping this will give me a good idea of how the water changes over a tidal cycle.

Saturday, 27 August 2011 – my second to last day fishing. A private yacht had ventured into the sound so its rich owners could tour around. As we were the only other ship around, the two captains started talking, which resulted in an invite for the yacht owners to come watch us fish and maybe see greenland sharks. At the most awkward point in the fishing, the yacht owners including their two young daughters showed up to watch. Not one of them was wearing a life jacket – it was kinda scary watching the little kids climb out of their zodiac and onto the ship without one (we always wore life jackets on deck). It felt kinda like we were in a zoo as the rich folks photographed us working. The kids quickly started to feel seasick as the ship was drifting. Fortunately, we caught a shark so they could take a look and then head home to their fancy yacht.

Sunday, 28 August 2011. After a final round of fishing, we returned to Pangurtung. I spent the night at the lodge and headed home the next morning.

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