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May 2012

Arctic ocean exploration: Monday 29 April

Posted by Peter Howlett on 8 May 2012
The hangar where the grabs are launched from.
A grab being launched from the hangar - you can see why it can't be done when it's rough!
Sorting the trawl from 660m
A first glimpse of deep sea life in the Arctic Ocean
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We spent the last 24 hours doing little while a Force 9 gale stoped all sampling, waves were washing over the trawl deck. At last the beam trawl is out now and sampling at just under 2000m. We have completed one station at 660m.

At every station we take samples with a Van Veen grab, a box core, a beam trawl and an epibenthic sledge. The grab and box core are launched from the hangar which is in the middle of the ship, and the doors open close to the sea level. The sledge and trawl are launched off the trawl deck at the stern of the ship. The pictures show the hangar with doors closed and a remote video camera array in the corner. With the doors open the Van Veen grab is launched by the crew, not the scientists, we have no intention of falling into the Arctic waters.

The first beam trawl from 660m is now up and our first sight of life in the Norwegian Sea is on deck. This sample has many kinds of starfish and brittlestars of stunning colours along with an angler fish.

Ocean exploration north of the Arctic Circle

Posted by Peter Howlett on 8 May 2012
Old Tromso
The Polar Museum in Tromso
The research ship GOSars
The scenary is dramatic around Tromso

Dr Graham Oliver and Dr Andy Mackie from the Department of Biodiversity and Systematic Biology have been offered the chance to take part in a research cruise to the Arctic waters of northern Norway. This cruise is part of the Mareano project, which aims to map the bathymetry, sedimentology and biology of the seabed around Norway. Graham and Andy will be looking for deep water bivalves and ploychaete worms to augment their research here.


Graham takes up the story:

Our ship is in port and we are now on board waiting to depart for the research area south of the Lofoten Islands. Once there we will be taking samples from depths between 200 and 2500metres.

We have arrived in late spring but already the days are long with the sun coming up well before 5am, but then we are north of the Arctic Circle. The snow is still lying thickly but the bright weather makes the mountainous backdrop really spectacular.

We sail around midnight and it will take 24 hours to reach our first station when we start our 12-hour shifts. Lets hope we can then show you the ship at work and hopefully some of the marine life in the Norwegian Sea.

In the meantime here is a flavour of Tromsø. The town is a mixture of old and new, all jumbled up and reflecting a boom time in the 1960’s. The wooden houses are typical of the old town and the Polar museum represents a most modern addition. The city is surrounded by rugged scenery of fjords and mountains. Our ship the GOSars is named after an eminent marine biologist and one of the most modern in the Norwegian research fleet.