|Checking all the parts of CATAIN in the lab.
Photo by Alexa Elliott, Changing Seas/South
Ladies and gentlemen, CATAIN has embarked on its first solo mission in a remote environment: Kongsfjorden, Svalbard, Arctic. Yesterday at 1300 hours, the world's first autonomous settlement camera was deployed on the seafloor at 15 meters depth at 79 degrees north. There it will remain, anchored in place for about a year. While CATAIN operates solo, it is certainly not alone in its liquid location. Just a few meters away is Ny-Ålesund's old pier, and a similar distance in another direction is an underwater observatory run by the Alfred Wegener Institute.
|Kharis and I with our creation. Photo by Alexa Elliott,
Changing Seas/South Florida PBS.
For the deployment, Kharis and I built a box for CATAIN to sit on. We braided ropes together to make a bridle. We filled the box with anything heavy we could find - there were some concrete blocks in storage at the marine lab, and we also grabbed rocks from the beach. We secured the whole thing with rope, ratchet straps, bolts, and nuts. When the crane of our research vessel, Teisten, heaved CATAIN up off the deck, the box creaked but didn't break. Our homemade deployment system actually seemed to work.
|Deploying CATAIN in Kongsfjorden. Photo by
Alexa Elliott, Changing Seas/South Florida PBS.
If we succeed, CATAIN will provide us with the first-ever data on settlement and post-settlement mortality patterns in Arctic benthic invertebrates. We will test the hypothesis first proposed in 2013 that for some species, settling during the polar night could actually be advantageous, because they can grow large enough to withstand competition from other species during the spring bloom. We will answer scientific questions that were never before possible to answer in remote environments, and I will be extremely proud. If we succeed.
So far, so good. Long live CATAIN.