Ben Russell, NOC, Saturday, 30 July 2012
When I last wrote for this blog the second day of sampling was ending, with things settling down after mobilisation. By the end of today (Saturday) some people will have taken their final samples, with the others rounding things off tomorrow. I was a last-minute replacement for this cruise, and having never been on one before did not know what to expect. The time has flown by, it has been an incredible experience, and I feel very lucky to have been a part of this cruise and experience this extraordinary part of the world.
During the cruise I have been measuring bacterial production at different water depths (blog post 04/06/12). This is outside my usual work as a radiochemist, and I have enjoyed being part of a different research department and working with new people. Each day we collect seawater samples from the morning CTD, and then immediately take them to the constant temperature lab, which preserves the water’s temperature and bacterial composition. At this stage I would like to thank Simon Wright for never reducing the temperature of this lab below 3 or 4 degrees, even when we were in the ice and the seawater temperature dropped below zero. It is remarkable how efficiently you work when the reward is moving to a lab that is at room temperature.
After the excitement of the polar bears seen on the ice, things have calmed down slightly on the wildlife front over the past few days, although this afternoon a pod of dolphins briefly followed the ship before drifting away. As we get closer to Iceland and prepare for demobilization, some of us are optimistic about retrieving radio signal in time for the final of the European football championship, which is of particular interest to the Italian and Spanish scientists on board. A few days back Mario and myself were subjected to the torture of constantly refreshing the BBC Sport text update during the penalty shoot out between England and Italy, with the intermittent internet connection providing as much tension as if we had been watching it live.
The social side of the end of cruise started last night with a very successful JCR pub quiz hosted by 3rd Engineer Mango McManus, with Paddy providing very well received ice creams at half time. The highlight of the night was the physical challenge, where one member of each team (along with an assistant) races to get into a survival suit. If you ever find yourself faced with a similar challenge, I recommend selecting the shortest person and the largest suit.