Sunday, December 4, 2016

Day 4 | Wild night, a day off and a whale sighting

Last night was rough! Yesterday we managed to tag 1047 herring. A new record number for this tokt! When we take breaks and the end of the day we release the herring we have in the nets. Somehow during that process I jammed my thumb, and it's now swollen and painful. Black and blue.

After dinner the winds picked up. We knew this would happen so we moved the boat over to the docks connected to land after releasing the herring and before dinner. Then the winds began gusting!

I'm sleeping in the bow of the boat. The sail came loose and had to be tied in again. Without the use of my left thumb, I'm incapable of helping and thus a pretty useless sailor again. I've been so accident prone on this tokt. The guys and our skipper (a tiny woman from Switzerland) got the rigging secured and now the boat is a little bit better.

The winds continued howling all night, and I was glad we did not tag herring today, although we had a few hours of ok weather. Light breeze and a little rain/sleet. So I took a walk/jog along the road while we had daylight and called Marius. While on the phone with him I spotted a lone killer whale coming into the bay. He swam in towards our platform and then back out again. Probably seeing if we had given him any easy lunch today. Not the greatest picture, but I managed to snap one. I hope that we see some more whales while I'm here. The seagulls are pretty entertaining as well, though. They all have different sounds and we enjoy imitating them for entertainment when work gets monotonous.

Good night from Belvika, Tromsø! Expect to do more tagging tomorrow - as long as the weather permits!

[Killer whale and the looming Blåmannen mountain in the background]

[Bruised thumb and our empty platform behind me. Dreary day in Belvika]

Friday, December 2, 2016

Day 2 | Much better day

Today I woke up for breakfast a little before 7:30 and felt much better. No headache. I was glad to not have to worry about going to the hospital to check on my head
! We were told that the fishermen needed to fill their quota first and then they could deliver fish to us. In the meantime, we took the sailboat to another dock to fill up our water tank. None of us have had a shower since Wednesday! Definitely like camping on board, but pretty cool and different.

Since the sky was clear it started to get light by 9AM. We had daylight until 2:30PM. We did not see any whales today, but I have seen some weak northern lights. I'm hoping that they will get stronger.

My primary task this cruise has been releasing the fish after they were tagged. All the tasks are equally monotonous, but not bad. The fish are held in a net pen until we are finished tagging for the day. This is so that if any don't survive the tagging process we can pluck them out and reuse the tag.

It's quite hard work on this excursion compared to previous ones. We don't have machines to lift the catch or nets, so we are doing it all by hand. I'm pretty sore, but it's nice to have some physical activity!

Tomorrow the weather is predicted to be fine, but Sunday is expected to be relatively high winds and rain/snow, so we won't be tagging that day. We'll likely be tied up to a dock and be allowed to go for a hike or walk.

[The platforms we are working from and the boat providing us electricity - our sailboat not pictured]

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Herring Tagging Trip: day 1

Pancho did much better than expected on the plane from Bergen to Oslo! He got out of his crate and was so happy, and I was glad to not find puke in his crate. When we got to the Engebrethsen's house he had so much energy, and we finally got to bed around 11:30.

At 5:45 my alarm went off. Rigmor was dropping me off at the bus stop for the airport bus at 6:15. I landed at Tromsø a little before 10AM. There was light in the sky, but the clouds make it quite dark and gloomy. I was picked up by a girl working for the yachting company we are renting the sailboat from, and we drove about 25 minutes outside of Tromsø to an area called Kaldfjord. She and I waited by the dock for probably at least an hour while the fishermen brought some herring over to our nets for marking. And we spotted a lone killer whale. He hung around for a couple of minutes, and not long enough for me to get out my camera.

We are sleeping on a 50 foot sailboat for this tokt/excursion. It's tight, but quite neat to be in a different setting from the massive fishing boats. I unpacked my gear, put on my layers of union suits (is that what they're called? Total Dad term), and watched the process to be useful after lunch.

Up til now there have been four of them working as a team, the original plan was to have two teams of three. One person catches a fish in a net, then takes the net over the table where the next person holds onto the fish belly up, Jostein measures the fish and sets in a GPS tag, and then the fourth person releases the fish.

After lunch we went out to start working again. I had taken a motion sickness pill when I landed, and was feeling ok. When we got outside again it was 2:30PM, dark, windy, and snowing. I was given the task to load the tag into the tagging pistol to try to speed things along for them. We were probably only 20-30 minutes into working and I suddenly was not feeling myself.

I dreamed of a few weird things, and then woke up laying on the platform we were working from. I had passed out. The only thing I can think of that caused it is possibly not getting used to the motion of the water before it got dark and focusing on just the table we were working from. I went inside and laid down for a while. Right now I have a headache, but luckily the only thing that hurts to the touch is my nose. Adam (one of my co-workers) said that maybe I hit it when I fell down.

So that was a rough start. Three hours in and I'm already out of the game. I'm hoping that I can be of use tomorrow, but I will of course take precaution and if this headache doesn't go away will be asked to be taken to the hospital for a quick check.

I'm still hoping to work on this tokt. It is really different from our usual excursions, and I'm hoping to get to see more whales and a good northern lights show.

Hopefully I'll have a better update in a few days. Dramatic start! Internet isn't fantastic here either, so no pictures for this post :(

Act for Arctic