- Video clips
In January 2015 we'll set sail again on board RV Pelagia to service our transatlantic array of instruments and re-deploy them.
On this blog, we'll keep you updated on our adventures at sea. Please drop us a note (jbstuut-at-nioz.nl) if you have any questions!?
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This is the last addition to the blog; here you how Pelagia sails off for the next leg with NIOZ-colleague Hans van Haren, who deployed a test mooring last year in the Puerto Rico Trench. As you may have witnessed in this blog we had a GREAT tour and we gathered priceless data about Saharan dust and its marine environmental impact. We were very successful in deploying new instruments along the transatlantic transect that will hopefully add more data to provide new insights when we pick them up again next year. We would like to thanks foremost captain Pieter Kuijt en his crew for their great hospitality, flexibility and eagerness to help us out where possible. Also, we would like to thanks everybody at home who followed us through this blog! See you next year!?
When we docked in port last night, the whole harbour was empty. As we woke up this morning, there suddenly were three cruise ships lying around us. These ships are BIG! Now we also understand why it took a while to get our entry stamps in our passports; each of these ships spills out thousands of tourists that also want a stamp in their passports....
Tonight, the new crew will arrive on the ship and on Saturday morning, the next cruise is scheduled to leave. For this reason, we have all day to pack our stuff in crates and stow them away so that they are not hampering the next cruise. Fortunately, there is ample room on the ship to store things so that we don't have to send a container home from here. On this photo you see how Yvo and Jan-Dirk are helping Cor (in the crane's control room) putting a flat rack on the shore.
We concluded our trip with a "blauwe barbeknoei" skewers and gamba's on the grill, served with peanutbutter sauce: yummy!! Initially, we were told to drop anchor and wait until the early morning to port but, just after the anchor was dropped, suddenly we were summoned to port directly. That's quite ok with us! Here you see Barry, Jan-Dirk, Hans, Laura and Michelle longing to set foot on land.
Today we took some time to film with the GoPro the actual under-water behaviour of the ultraclean CTD; the concept of closing the bottles was invented at NIOZ and the whole frame is the pride-and-joy of Hein de Baar's Iron group and a great demonstration of the engineering skills of the institute's workshops. Immediately after submerging, two curious fish came to have a look...
It is clear that we're approaching land again; now and then we're being visited by some curious animals. This morning there were a few dolphins that enthusiastically swam towards the ship to come frolick in the bow's wave but as we were on station, there was no such thing as a bow wave, so soon they disappeared again.... Here you see two gannets that have stayed with the ship for almost a day. They plummet into the sea to catch fish; quite a sight though hard to catch on camera.
Due to the forecasted increase in wind, and the related swell, we decided to start our series of activities at station M5 with the deployment of the moored sediment traps. All went very well; the guys on deck are clearly getting the hang of it. A complete mooring was deployed within 2½ hours, a new record! The last item to go in is the anchor. Although it can hardly compete with a 3000kg buoy-mooring anchor, this 1000kg one made a fair splash!
After 3½ weeks at sea, we almost reached the end of our transatlantic transect and thus the end of our cruise. After all this time, things are slowly running out. Here you see a photo of the stores, which look relatively empty if you compare them to back in Mindelo when we filled them almost to the roof! Cook Leon somehow manages to put really good food on the table every day so we can't complain at all!
This photo is a tick older; a few days ago we saw some rain in the distance. Combined with the sun that is around most of the time, this resulted in this nice rainbow! We did not bother to go looking for the post of gold at the end of the rainbow; we got our gold already in all the precious samples we collected this cruise!
Just like a regular vacuum cleaner, the air pump that makes sure air is filtered on the buoy takes a lot of power. Fortunately, at these latitudes there is plenty of power to be had from the sun, and the solar panels can quickly recharge the batteries. In the new set up, another power-consuming piece of equipment (the CO2 senson, which has a pump as well) is added so there is a kind of competition for power. For this reason, Bob had to be creative again and find a solution to tap power from batteries in such a way that enough is left for the air pump, and that in case of damage or shortcircuit due to salt water, the batteries do not blow themselves up. Here you see how Bob, a.k.a. MacGyver, adjusts the buoy's meterbox.
The idea of the dust-collecting buoys is that they are a platform to collect dust by filtering air. However, there is ample room for additional equipment. This year we have upgraded both buoy Michelle and buoy Laura with a Temperature and Salinity logger. In addition, a passive sampler for organic contaminants (from NIOZ colleague Kees Booij) and a CO2 sensor (from VLIZ colleague Andre Cattrijsse) were added to buoy Laura. These instruments are mounted inside the metal tube below the yellow float. In order to connect them to the solar panels on top of the buoy, someone had to climb inside. It turned out that only Barry would fit through the holes in the tube and like a true Houdini, he managed climb inside and do the job. Luckily he also made it out in time....
Finally the weather allows recovery of the mooring with sediment traps, so we started early this morning with a radio signal to the releaser with which the M4-mooring was kept in place. All worked well and here you see how the second sediment trap is hoisted on deck by Jan-Dirk, Barry, and Yvo. All bottles contain some material and --just like in the previous year-- it seems there have been a couple of interesting events again!
Later today mooring M4 was also re-deployed successfully, so the score is really 100%, again! Well done guys!
Hans joined our team as a Master's student and would have had to miss an exam for his degree, which his fellow students were writing back home in Utrecht today. However, thanks to the good internet connection we have now, the exam could be passed on to the ship and here you see how Hans does the R-exercise on the bridge where Master Pieter keeps an eye on him. No cheating!
After a year of floating in the open ocean, there is quite some biology growing on the buoys. This may also be the reason why there are so many fish swimming around? The slimy green stuff consists of algae and there are also plenty of gooseneck barnacles (eendenmosselen) and here and there even a little crab. Can you imagine the smell? Before we re-deploy the buoy it has to be cleaned again, obviously, and here you see Laura and Hans polishing buoy Laura.
During our last cruise Ronald Veldhuizen joined our cruise. He is a freelance journalist and is very enthusiastic about our project. He closely follows our blog and got thrilled about the dust event we sailed through. He wrote another piece on our trip in the Volkskrant, a national daily news paper (in Dutch, obviously).
Just like Karel, also Patrick Laan has his own container, which is standing on the deck. His speciality is the analyses of tiny tiny amounts of metals that are dissolved in seawater. In particular he focusses on the metal Iron (Fe), and also this is a really nice add-on to our studies as it is generally thought that Iron is a growth-limiting element for marine plankton. As generally there are very many iron pieces on a ship, the CTD that he uses to sample water from the ocean is mounted on a frame that is made of Titanium, and also inside the container there is no piece of metal to be found. To prevent further contamination, he always wears this funny outfit.
While most of us are running around on deck and in the labs, Karel Bakker does his measurements inside his own Nutrients (NUTS) container, down in the belly of the ship. Every time the ultra-clean CTD has disappeared inside Patrick's container on deck, Karel sneaks in as well and comes out after some time with a happy face and a tray of water bottles. In his container with a very complicated-looking machine, he produces numbers on PO4, NH4, NO2, NO3.... He also analyses the samples from our sediment traps, which is a very valuable add-on to our studies!
Lowering a CTD with 1 m/s to a water depth of 4500m takes a lot of time. For this reason, Yvo, Jan-Dirk, and Barry alternate their winch duties. Here you see Barry keeping Jan-Dirk company in the winch control room. Whenever Hans tells them to stop the winch, they answer: Gestopt!
On transit to station M4 we stop every morning to do a CTD cast. Hans is master-of-the-mic; he follows the results of the sensors on the CTD which are measuring temperature, salinity, etc. He is in contact with whoever operates the winch through a radio connection. He tells them when to stop the winch to close a bottle on the CTD, and when to continue hoisting the equipment up. The radio can be heard on various places throughout the ship so we all hear his cheerful: Stopt u maar!
Sometimes Leon asks for suggestions for the menu. Here you see a very happy Patrick, who suggested garlic soup. Leon had never made it before but he is most welcome to try again; his first attempt was already very successful!!
A good tradition that we cherish is the "geologists' hour" on Sundays. If the program allows it, we take a small break and sit down together for an hour sipping a glass of Port wine while listening to classical music. The big MERCI was given to the crew and it turns out that chocolate goes really well together with Port wine!
After the long station M3 we are about halfway through the cruise program: time to celebrate! We do this with a BBQ on the aft. Leon prepared the fish that Jose caught and that Martin cleaned, and some other yummy stuff. Obviously, there were also skewers with pindasaus!
This year we have the luxury of sampling in high resolution: a new type of sediment trap offers 40 bottles instead of the 24 that we used to have. Here you Laura and Michèlle putting in the new bottles into the carousels. Lab coats are a rare site on the aft deck.....
After the deployment of the buoy, the deck is being prepared for the deployment of the mooring with the sediment traps and all the other instruments. Meanwhile, Bob is preparing the dust-collecting tower that was retrieved from buoy Michèlle, and will be put on buoy Laura. Here you see how full the deck is with all this gear.
Buoy Michèlle got a thorough clean up, and some technical improvements and now she is ready to sample the atmosphere for Saharan dust for another year. Here you see Michèlle say goodbye to "her" buoy: happy sampling!
The guys on deck: Bosun Cor and his team, together with chief technician Yvo and his team, in close collaboration with Master Pieter and his team on the bridge, work together as one big team. The deployment of buoy Michèlle went really smooth and here you see the final stage, where the buoys is lifted from the deck.
For every cruise so far, we have made T-shirts with a dusty oneliner; sometimes, they make funny combinations....
These fish are called Dorade (apparently every ocean has its own Dorade?) and are also known as Dolphin fish. This name we can understand because now and then we see them jumping out of the water, just like Dolphins do. Martin is the expert in preparing the fish and here you the filets he cut from a single fish. Cook Leon put them on the menu today: yummy!
It turns out that the mooring creates a whole unique ecosystem in the ocean; small fish use the shadow for protection? Small fish are eaten by bigger fish and big fish are caught by Jose; he's a real natural! Within 10 minutes he managed to get these three big guys out of the water. Please note the shoe for scale....
Today is again a top day: 100% score with both the buoy as well as the entire mooring on deck! More good news; all sensors on this mooring are full with new exciting data and all the cups of the trap contain some material with clearly some (dust?) events in them!
Yesterday, we had already seen buoy Michelle's flash light, and this morning we picked her up. Here you see Martin, Sietske and Jan Dirk in the Man-Over-Board (MOB) boat attaching lines to the buoy so that she can be hoisted on deck. It turns out that luck was in our favour again; the wear on the chains by the ocean's movements almost freed the buoy from her anchor.....
This morning we were going to pick up the floating traps that we had deployed yesterday. We could follow their track through the iridium beacon which gave us regular updates by eMail on their position. Until the internet connection failed.... The radio beacon that is also on the traps does give an idea about the distance between ship and beacon through the signal intensity. It does not give a clue in which direction we would have to look though.... So: all hands on the bridge and start looking! Eagle-eye Jan Dirk spotted it first and we could pick up the traps.
One day a little and very tired petrel landed on deck. It was so tired that it could be easily picked up. We gave it some bread and some water and slowly the little fellow started to look a tick happier. Now it's living in the sink (it apparently does not like the cardboard box we gave it) and we expect it to be able to leave us again soon.
Mr Murphy joined our cruise as well: as soon as the moored trap was on its way to the sea surface, the wind picked up, causing the waves to increase again as well.... For this reason, it was decided to recover the mooring from the side of the ship, where vertical movements are a lot less than on the aft deck. Chief technician Yvo and his MTM mates Barry and Jan Dirk, together with Bosun Cor and his crew consisting of Rik, Martin, and Jose, did a great job again and managed to put all moored instruments safely on deck. To make this succes complete: the sediment trap worked perfectly and all cups contain some material!
Today we will try to recover the moored sediment trap that we deployed in November 2013. Using a radio-sounder, Bob released the mooring from its anchor and it came up smoothly to the surface. Eagle-eyed Laura saw the mooring surface and then Master Pieter manoeuverd the ship alongside the top floats. Here you see how Barry, like a genuine Caribbean pirate, throws the enter hook to try and catch the pick up line.
On our way West, we sailed away from the Saharan dust plume. Now it is time to clean the ship as well, starting with the filters that clean the air going into the ship's air-conditioning. Hans is always eager to take a sample but from these filters this won't be easy.....
Today is our last day of the transit between stations M1 and M2/3. To prepare for the first action at station M2, the drifting traps, we have already filtered sea water and, by adding salt, made it dense enough to not diffuse out of the tubes. Here you see Laura and Michelle filling up the tubes of the drifting traps. Let's hope that they provide as nice samples as the first attempt at station M1!
Our cook Leon and the steward Sergej take really good care of us and the Sundays' meal is always extra special!
The three high-school classes that decorated foam cups gave us an additional task; sending all these cups (N=90!) to the sea floor with the CTD frame. Sometimes, the nets are torn and cups don't come back up. In this picture one can see that --unfortunately-- not all cups deform uniformly....
The coming few days will be very hectic because the stations are relatively close to each other and we'll --hopefully!-- recover and deploy a few moorings, which also have to be serviced still. Therefore, we've already started to prepare the mast that is going to be put on buoy Michelle in a few days. Here you see Bob and Jan-Berend implementing some mechanical improvements to the buoy. In the background you can still see the dust cloud that appears as a fog over the ocean.
As can be seen in the previous photo, we also fixed a net to the CTD frame to lower foam cups to the sea floor. At the high school OSG de Hogeberg, three 2nd grade classes decorated cups, which we'll lower to >5000m and on this photo you can see the effect the pressure (1 bar per 10 m water depth) increase has on these cups.
Next to tapping water from the ocean, we also map the water masses. At different depths throughout the ocean, different water masses flow in different directions. We would like to know where the boundaries between these water masses are, and if these flow patterns influence the settling of (dust) particles to the ocean floor. The yellow piece of equipment that you see Jan Dirk de Visser and Martin de Vries install on the frame of the ultra clean CTD is a so-called ADCP. With this Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler, we can measure current profiles throughout the water column when the CTD is lowered down and hoisted up.
On our way west along 12°N, we stop every morning to lower the ultraclean CTD. This piece of equipment that looks like a giant radiator, consists of a titanium frame and 24 HDPE bottles that can collect 24 liters of water each. Along the entire 5000 m of water column we take water samples by closing the bottles at the desired depths.
Processing the water samples involves a lot of filtration, which can only partly be carried out in the CTD container, which has an automated filtration system. Here you see Hans van Hateren filtering water from the floating sediment traps.
As everybody knows, January/February are THE trade-winds months in this part of the world. So when it was decided that we'd have to do the transatlantic crossing now, we prepared for rough weather. Here you see the effect of a rocking ship on a simple thing like a water flow; shouldn't that flow go straight down!?
Our electro-technician Bob Koster is all over the ship fixing (electronical) problems. He claims his handicap is that he can't say "no" if someone asks for help... During transport the ADCP was damaged and fortunately, Bob managed to fix it so that we can hopefully deploy it today at station M1.
A new instrument that we will try out this cruise consists of three times four tubes that float suspended in the water at different depths. For the next 24 hours, these open tubes will collect anythng that is settling through the water column and as there is so much dust around, we expect to see a ballasting effect of dust particles dragging organic matter down to the sea floor. We can't wait to recover these traps tomorrow!
Although the air seemed to be less dusty last evening, the sun is still obscured by the dust. The whitish tones probably have to do with the fact that the dust layer is not that thick but still dense enough for us to go without sun cream and not get toasted....
On the roof of the bridge we have set up dust collectors, and also these manage to register quite some dust. Here you see the harvest of a only 3 hours of filtering air; quite a yield!
The scientists are pretty thrilled about the dust storm we're sailing through, the ship's crew is less happy about it.... Here you see a picture of the air fan in the machine room. These filters are litterally caked with dust!
The white haze that is obscuring the views turns out to be Saharan dust after all. Here you see a view of the northern tip of the Island of Sao Vicente; the white light house is at 1.5nm (less than 3km). Next to the marine-environmental impacts that we would like to study the event clearly illustrates how daily-life things like visibility (relatively important for road- and also air-traffic!) is influenced by dust outbreaks.
Since last night there seems to be a kind of fog, or maybe it is dust? Obviously we like to believe the latter.... Anyway, there is a kind of haze everywhere and there is certainly "something" blowing around. The stuff that lands in our eyes most likely is local dust.... Decide for yourself by comparing these two images. The left one was taken two days ago, in the early evening. The right one was taken this morning; although there is some sun (see the shadow of the light house) the rock Island looks hazy.
As it is pretty windy, we know that during the first few hours after departure tomorrow, we will not be able to work a lot.... For this reason, everybody is preparing for the first station already. Here you see how Patrick makes sure that the Ultra-Clean CTD Container is exactly that: (ultra) clean.
Since they picked up our prototype buoy that had started to drift in summer 2013, we have a nice contact to our colleagues from the Instituto Nacional de Desenvolvimento das Pescas (INDP). Here you see Pericles da Silva, Tatiana Cabral, Irondina Evora, and Ivanice Monteiro who took a tour on the ship and told us about the effects of Saharan dust on their daily lives.
It is winter also in this part of the world. This means that the sea has a chilly 21°C, the air about the same temperature, so we see a lot of people wearing thick jackets and woolen caps.... A typical winter thing is a (Saharan) dust storm. We're the few ones that are hoping for such an event!
After the slow start of the flights to Mindelo, all seems to go very well in the harbour; all the equipment that we sent in containers has arrived and now we "only" have to sort everything out and organise the labs. Here you see how the container of the ultra-clean CTD is hoisted on deck.
Seeing the ship again and meeting the crew of John Ellen and his team makes us feel coming home a little bit.
After a delay of 21 hours, we have set foot on the Island Sao Vicente, Cape Verdian Islands.
The irony of it all is that there was a Saharan-dust outbreak that prevented the plane from flying out. It makes us feel less bad though and we're obviously hoping for more dust to pass over from the Sahara!!
We're being told that our flight has a delay of 17 hours; not quite a dream start of our cruise!
2015 starts dusty: here you see a NASA satellite image from the NW African coast with heaps of dust being blown into the equatorial North Atlantic. Obviously, we hope to encounter plenty of these dust events in the next few weeks!
After a charter survey in the Indian Ocean, RV Pelagia is now travelling back to the equatorial north Atlantic. At the moment, Master John Ellen and his crew are approaching the equator on their way to Mindelo, Sao Vicente, where they hope to arrive on 10 January 2015.
For every cruise, we get together with all the scientists and technicians to discuss the plans and practical things for the upcoming cruise. Here you see how Chris talks about his initial results from the samples he processed from previous cruises. The discussions help us create new ideas and design new experiments to answer related questions.
High-school kids of "OSG de Hogeberg" will follow our adventures onboard the Pelagia. Also, they have decorated foam cups that we'll attach to the CTD frame, which shall descend to 5000m depth. What will the result be....???
For every cruise so far --PE395 will be the 4th!-- we have created T-shirts that were handed out to all sailors and scientists onboard the research vessel we sailed on. These T-shirts are true collector's items!
Bob gives a crash course on how to handle (retrieve data, install new carrousels, program the measuring schedules) the new traps. Frank, Geert-Jan, and Esmee are paying close attention so that they can handle the next set of traps.
Bob Koster is assembling the new sediment traps; sorting out all the different pieces like carrousels, motors, etc. and doing quick test runs to make sure all the necessary parts are here and working....
Piet Grisnich picked up the three brand-new sediment traps in Kiel and brought them to the Island.
These were the last items to be stuffed into the containers, which is Jan Dirk's assignment: good luck Jan Dirk!
Chris is preparing the Omni sampler, with which microbes are sampled in air.
Obviously, we are hoping to encounter a lot of dust outbreaks, containing lots of interesting stuff!
Aside from all the stuff we need in the labs (sample containers, filters, etc.) and the instruments we're going to use and deploy, there is plenty of other stuff that needs to shipped to the ship like reels-with-cables, anchor weights, chains, ropes, etc....
Preparations were started weeks ago already by creating lists and forget-me-not lists.
To be sure that all equipment can be placed onboard RV Pelagia, we need to ship it to Sao Vicente in time: Monday 1st December the two containers have to be brought to Rotterdam harbour already!!
On 8 January 2015 we'll fly to Mindelo, which is the capital of Sao Vicente, which is one of the Cape-Verdian Islands. The ship will arrive one day later and we'll start packing directly; new stores (food and drinks!) will have to be brought on board, and also the equipment and stuff that we need to do our work. All our tools and instruments will be shipped in two 20-ft containers, which we hope to find waiting for us on the 8th!
Below you can see the planned cruise track:
Chris Munday (now in Canada)
Dirk Jong (graduated from Utrecht University)
Esmee Geerken (now PhD student at NIOZ)
Hans van Hateren (now PhD student at VU Amsterdam)
Katharina Wetterauer (now Master's student at Bremen University)
Korinna Kunde (now Master's student at NOC-Southampton)
Merrith Hogenes (graduated from VU Amsterdam)
For the EGU meeting in Vienna in 2017 we intend to organise a dusty PICO session.
More news to follow soon....