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Atlantic coccoliths blog

Storms, albatrosses and our own CTD cast

Jeremy, Wednesday 5 November 2008

It’s Sunday 2nd November now, so only another week of the cruise, which is maybe just as well since we are running low on supplies for sampling, boxes to put them in, microscope bulbs, and energy. As we left the tropics we ran into a gale and a big swell, which set the ship rolling quite nicely and resulted in two of our sampling stations being cancelled – which was a bit disappointing but it did allow us to stop work and enjoy the sea. Standing on monkey island (i.e. above the bridge), as the ship rose in and out of big waves was very impressive. Then as a bit of a bonus our first albatross appeared.

Going through the gale - the James Clark Ross hitting a wave relatively firmly

Going through the gale - the James Clark Ross hitting a wave relatively firmly

The first albatross we have seen on the cruise

The first albatross we have seen on the cruise

Generally the number of birds is increasing as we leave the tropic and go into more fertile waters. The weather improved today and at lunchtime we were able to stop for our noon sampling station in relatively calm sunny waters and slowly gathered a little flock of petrels and albatrosses. Indeed albatrosses are beginning to get positively common.

Numerous birds watching the lunchtime water-sampling

Numerous birds watching the lunchtime water-sampling

Another albatross

Another albatross

Scientifically today was rather special for us. One of our prime objectives on the cruise has been to study the change in distribution of coccolithophore populations with depth. Our observations so far have suggested that, rather than there being separate near-surface and deep communities, there is a continuous succession of different assemblages with depth. Luckily for us there was also some ship-time available for additional science and the principal scientific officer, Malcolm Woodward, was able to arrange a separate CTD sampling mission for us. So, today after the regular noon sampling the ship stayed on station for another hour or so as the CTD and rosette sampler was sent back down for a special Natural History Museum sampling mission, collecting water every 12 metres from 275m to the surface. This means a late night beckons as we work our way through 260 litres of seawater.

Up it comes again, the sampler, this time with water just for us

Up it comes again, the sampler, this time with water just for us

Jeremy and Martine – 33°S 31°W

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