Thursday, September 14, 2017

Staged and ready

Today is one of those days when I sit down in the evening and realize suddenly that I am exhausted. My body is drained of all energy, and I can feel that the muscles in my legs and back have been used. At first, I could not figure out why I was so tired, but when I thought back, I realized I have done a lot today.

My day started at 7 am. I made sure I was moving early because I needed to get my larval samplers filled and prepped before a 10:30 meeting with the other scientists. I had sent myself a box with all the supplies to build the samplers, but they still needed to be put together. My poor hotel room turned into a mini laboratory as I spread out all my things, filtered water, and filled the samplers. As I worked, I kept thanking myself for thinking as far ahead as I did and not forgetting any of the necessary supplies.

Once the samplers were in order, I hiked down to UNIS for a meeting with the rest of the scientists. This cruise is quite a bit smaller than my last one, with only 16 scientists going on board. It didn't take me long to learn everyone's names and nationalities (it's quite an international group), and we chatted about our research objectives. The chief scientist gave an overview of the cruise plan and general schedule, then outlined the plan for loading the ship that afternoon. 

My work station for the day on R/V Lance. Do you recognize
the gray wooden box and settlement frames?
I ran a few errands over lunch and then got a ride to the ship with my now-completed samplers. On board, I was reunited with another box of mine, which had been loaded by my colleagues a month ago. I'm curious if anyone recognizes the gray wooden box on the left side of the picture here or the contents inside. Those PVC frames and their box were built in Oregon in 2014, shipped to Svalbard, and used in my settlement experiment in Svalbard fjords in 2014-2015. After the experiment finished, I left the frames in the box in Longyearbyen in the hopes of using them again. Well, I have now successfully secured that chance, and the frames will be outfitted with fresh plates and deployed on my Norwegian colleagues' moorings in north Svalbard.

View from the back deck of Lance today
I spent the afternoon on the back deck of R/V Lance, prepping and sanding and attaching new settlement plates to the PVC frames. I sorted out which frames were to be used on the Norwegian expedition, which were left over and would come home with me, and then packed the frames and my larval samplers into the gray wooden box. Since I won't actually be on the ship (the cruise conflicted with another obligation for me), I met with the chief mooring technician and showed him how my things should be deployed. He pulled out diagrams of the moorings, and we marked the depths where my samplers should go. We actually hung a length of chain from the lab ceiling to simulate the mooring and tested out our planned attachment method. It worked. 

I didn't realize it, but I was actually the last scientist on the ship. The others had finished earlier and gone back to town, so when I completed my work at about 5:30 pm, it was just me and the crew. Thankfully, a crew member offered me a ride, so I didn't have to carry my leftover frames the 3 km back to town. 

In the evening, the scientists met for dinner at Kroa, a restaurant in the center of Longyearbyen. Part of me couldn't help but think about the last time I was at Kroa and how far I've come since then. I am grateful for the chance to conduct yet another project in Svalbard and build up our knowledge of the Arctic. I am grateful that the timing of the Lance cruise allowed me to meet the ship in Longyearbyen and prepare my samplers myself. I am grateful for my Norwegian and international colleagues, who are willing to help me by deploying my samplers, and whom I can trust with my research. I wish all the best to the Lance scientists and crew. Bon voyage!

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