Showing posts from July, 2012

After the survey

The ecosystem survey finished July 27th, and we arrived to Bergen around 7AM. I was surprised how it hit me that the cruise was over. A month goes by fast! The last week was full of bad weather, data processing, eating, playing cards and watching movies. When the weather was bad it was hard to concentrate on work.

The next four months will now be spent analyzing the data. This survey has been an amazing learning experience and I am so happy to have been given such an opportunity. Now comes the hard work!

This week on M/S Brennholm

My job aboard Brennholm is to work on the acoustic part of my thesis. So I am practicing some sonar and echo sounder scrutinozing. I am also relating the mackerel movement to the currents, but this will be hard since mackerel are so hard to see at all on any of the acoustic equipment since they lack a swim bladder.
It is nice to just have a 7:30 to 10 work day though and I have my supervisor right next to me for help.

Everyone on the cruise has gained weight, and despite doing some exercise almost everyday I am no exception. We are feed too well on the boats and you don't move around too much. (I was even convinced to try salted and dried whale meat from the Faroes. I stayed far away from the blubber!!) At least I have been able to run 13.5 km the past couple of days with the calm seas. There aren't many options for exercise on this ship compared to G.O. Sars.

A day at the Faroe Islands

This morning we arrived at the Faroe Islands. I am now aboard Brennholm. To clarify how that happened since I didn't have time to explain yesterday - The small orange boat (don't know the technical name for it) was lowered for me to get on from the second deck and we took the boat to the opposite side of Brennholm where there was a built-in ladder in the side of the boat for me to hold on and climb up. My bag was pulled up with a rope. I felt like a combination of James Bond and Bear Grylls! On Brennholm there are fewer cabins, so now I am sharing a cabin with the other American girl (Sarah) who shares my office with me at the IMR.

So back to the Faroes - after lunch I explored the world's smallest capital, Torshavn, with Ørjan, Jostein and Sara. We were given a good tip for a day trip and jumped at it, even though it was a little pricey - but how often does one go to the Faroes?? We took a bus about 40 minutes northwest to Vestmannen and took a scenic tour of the coast on…

Shifting ships

Today I moved from G.O. Sars to Brennholm, and in such style! I was taken on the small boat with Leif (my supervisor and the cruise leader). When we got next to Brennhom I had to climb up the side of the boat using the "ladder" which was built into the side. I really hope Leif took some pictures because it was so much fun and it felt really cool climbing up the side of a boat in the middle of the Norwegian Sea!!
Thank you, G.O. Sars for such an experience the last 17 days...tomorrow we will be at the Faroe Islands!
photo 1: GO Sars
photo 2: Faroe Islands boat

Passed another hurdle

I knew that one of these days of my 4 weeks at sea I would be obliged to try whale meat. Today was the day. I did not know it was whale meat when I put it on my plate and started cutting into it. Gunnar, who's father was a whaler, asked me "Do you know what kind of beef that is?" I said no, and he replied "good". So I had a couple of bites not connecting the dots, then Øyvind (another older scientist) said "Oooh! You are trying whale meat? The food of the Eskimos! They say there are many good minerals in whale meat."

...yup, I had done it. I ate a piece of whale meat....but it wasn't bad. It tasted like an overcooked steak. It was not what I had expected. I felt guilty when I had finished my dinner and started to think about the politics, morals, etc. behind whaling. First of all, you should know that Norway is only allowed to take 1400 whales per year, and the meat is very expensive. It is not an economically valuable meat, but has some culture …

Rough night

I may have been putting up some pictures of nice weather and sitting out on the deck, but it hasn't been like that all the time. We had some rough waves yesterday and it made processing the fish a bit more difficult in the factory and we fell off our chairs in the lab!

More from Tromsø

Here are a couple more pictures from Tromsø. Back at sea now on G.O. Sars the next 4 days before I switch over to Brennholm.

We have also now been featured on the IMR homepage - I'm in one of the pictures working hard!! (click the link) Mackerel
Leif has been writing many emails and sending pictures to reporters and the research institute because when we get more people engaged, we get more funding and awareness of the importance of these surveys.

Dry land at Tromsø

This morning we arrived at a small city in northern Norway called Tromsø. After breakfast I left G.O. Sars to explore - and managed to see most of the area in less than 3 hours. (Sorry, but our internet on board is too slow for uploading many pictures.)

Best day so far!

Every day has been special so far on this adventure, but today stood out above the rest. Today I had a small sample to process, but BIG mackerel (= great data for my thesis)!!! And then I had the day to relax on deck because we weren't going to do many trawls. The sun is shining and it's warm. I fell asleep on my towel and then I was woken up by someone yelling "Wake up, Justine! Whales!"

There were at least 6 pilot whales swimming in front of the ship. It was very exciting since I had never seen whales in the wild before, just dolphins. One group of three came on the port side of the ship and I saw them dive under - VERY COOL! Just a shame that my camera was too slow to get the shot! --- I do have a couple of good pictures though.

Whale meat is on the menu for dinner tonight. I think that out of principle I will not have any of the whale meat. We got 130 kgs of fresh meat brought on board today and it is possible for scientists and crew to purchase a couple kilos t…

Day 6 and getting tired.

Hasn't been a week yet and I'm feeling my lack of sleep catching up with me. Being on watch 6 hours on and then off has thrown me off a bit. I don't mind the 6PM work, but starting in the lab right at 6AM is not so fun. I don't move so fast as soon as I wake up and I'm a bit more clumsy with the fish - they seem to feel a little more slippery when I'm half asleep. I don't mind preparing otoliths and scales though in the morning - a nice way to start the day.

The water is a bit choppy, so not sure how good whale watching will be today. There have only been two sightings - both while I was sleeping. We are required to rest 8 hours, so after my morning shift I have lunch and nap for 2 hours.


Photos from the sea

I missed the killer whales!! - but there will be more. I will write more tomorrow. I have to get some sleep, but here are a couple pictures from the past couple days.

ICES Day 3

Today we had our first station of the survey. I have the day shift, so that means that I process the trawl catches from 6AM to noon, and then 6PM to midnight. The first catch was very small, but the next was probably around a ton of mackerel. I sort the fish and the other scientist on my shift measures and weighs them.

I haven't seen any whales yet, but I have been able to enjoy some sun on the 5th deck while keeping my eyes peeled. We have two whale watchers on board - one is a Scotsman and the other a Norwegian; both retired and go on surveys in their free time. The Norwegian has relatives in Duluth and likes to have discussions about America. His father was a whaler, so he has been whale watching most of his life.

I am proud to report that I have not gotten extremely seasick!! (KNOCK ON WOOD) The first day I was a little worried and couldn't eat much before feeling the urge, but today I had a healthy appetite to enjoy the chef's delicious meals! I have had many urges t…

ICES Day 1

So many emotions were running through my mind while I waited for 6pm to come around. Marius drove me to the dock and we waited for the vessel to come in. Then, finally, around 7, GO Sars turned the corner. It is HUGE! Marius and I went aboard and explored the ship together before it left port. There is a gym, sauna, large eating area, numerous lounges and I have my own en suite!

I got a smart phone, in hopes of connecting to Wi-Fi on board to send updates as they come from the lab or the bridge, but unfortunately, as of now it is not possible.

ICES Ecosystem Survey Cruise

Today I will begin one of the greatest experiences of my life. I will go out on a research cruise for 27 days in the Norwegian Sea, beginning in Bergen and zig-zagging north to follow mackerel just north of Tromsø and back.

We will use sonar and trawls to get a better picture of what the mackerel are doing every summer as they are swimming north feeding. I will also look at the minimum distance we can observe mackerel on sonar before there is avoidance behavior from the ship. If I'm lucky, I will get to see some whales as well. There are two people hired on each ship as whale watchers. It will be a really cool result if we can see what the fish do in response to whales on the sonar.

I will start on GO Sars: a 77.5 m vessel owned by the IMR and UiB. Half way through the survey I will be switched to the chartered vessel, Brennholm, to spend time with my other supervisor who will help me with the sonar readings.

I caved and got myself a smart phone yesterday so that I can post littl…

Summer job at Hakavik Kraftverk

This June I worked for three weeks at a hydro-power plant southwest of Oslo. I, along with three others (including Marius' younger sister), scraped paint off of the old sheds and worked at two dams providing some of the water. It was a nice change of pace from sitting in the office to working outside, and most days we were lucky with the weather.