Eleanor Haigh – Masters Student (University of Southampton)
And we’re off! Discovery set sail for 55oS 90oW at 6am today, with the orange glint of sunrise still cast over Punta Arenas we headed into the Magellan Strait. Our passage here has been lined with snow-capped mountains, blue skies, and a handful of marine mammals, and with a lot of set up already completed many of us were able to enjoy some time taking in the spectacular views. As one of the less experienced members of scientific crew on board, I’ve been warned that this beautiful route is quite an exception, and that I shouldn’t expect the calm waters and warming sunshine to continue for much longer as we head into the Pacific. For now it’s safe to say the obsessive screwing, duct taping, and zip-tying of equipment to our lab benches, which we undertook in the past few days, seems a little excessive, but I have no doubt it will become necessary later in the cruise once the weather picks up.
Beautiful scenery through the Magellan Straight and Eleanor demonstrating that it’s not quite as warm as the photos suggest (image courtesy E. Haigh)
The next few weeks, for me at least, will be a huge learning curve, as this is my first scientific cruise out to the open ocean. I’ll be working with the team responsible for taking measurements for the calibration of the mooring sensors, and also conducting small scale experiments to contribute towards my dissertation, which so far has been focussed on data from the past four years of the mooring series. Witnessing the immense amount of effort that goes into deploying the mooring and collecting said data has been amazing. From the lead scientists, to the ships cook, or the engineers, to the captain, sitting at my desk in Southampton, working through measurements the mooring has made, I would have never imagined such a busy operation happening every year. With high hopes of initial scientific work starting in a few days, I can’t wait to be a part of it!