Blog: approaching the Ross Sea - 16 February

16 February 2018We are getting to the end of our transit south, which means today was the last of our daily emergency drills.

16 February 2018

We are getting to the end of our transit south, which means today was the last of our daily emergency drills. Our task was to find the injured persons (with simulated injuries only of course!) on deck, assess their state, and transport them to the ship’s hospital. This exercise demanded extreme communication and coordination. We worked in teams to assess the status of the injured person (including body parts affected, level of consciousness and exposure to cold) and provide immediate comfort. The drill ended with a coordinated transport of the immobilized patient on a stretcher, through narrow corridors and obstacles on the deck, to the bed in the hospital. We learned a lot about teamwork and refreshed our knowledge of DRS ABCs (assess Danger, assess Responsiveness, Send for help, clear Airways, check Breathing, check Circulation).

Dr. Jenny Visser explains the dos and don’ts of first aid and patient care in an emergency, and guides the team to work together to move the injured person onto the stretcher.

On the science front, we did our last CTD and Bongo sampling of the transit, as we prepare for tomorrow when we will begin the main objectives of the voyage. The CTD control room in our hydro-drylab is a busy place during the cast, as scientists observe the information transmitted back to the ship, which includes temperature, salinity and fluorescence – a proxy for phytoplankton biomass. Some measurements are typically done at consistent depths (e.g. dissolved oxygen and salinity), and others are varied according to the sensor profiles, as the phytoplankton community changes in vertical structure depending on conditions such as light, nutrients and grazing. The computer monitors with the real-time information provide the basis to decide on the depths of water collection for biological sampling and experiments.

Dr. Andres Gutierrez-Rodriguez and Matt Walkington share a laugh as they decide which depths the CTD bottles will sample.
Matt Walkington communicates with the winch operator to move the CTD down and up through the water column.

The Bongo tow following the CTD cast showed a contrasting zooplankton community to the one we sampled yesterday, completely dominated by salps! Very few other critters were present (a few krill, copepods and an amphipod), as under certain oceanographic conditions salps seem to outcompete all other zooplankton taxa.

Dr. Moira Decima shows a portion of the daily zooplankton catch. Those dark dots are the guts of the salps, the rest is transparent!

Finally, as we prepare to begin our work within the Ross Sea proper, other groups are preparing for their sampling. The benthic crew is ensuring their cameras, epibenthic sled, sorting container and set-up is ready to go!

Sadie Mills and Dr. Malcom Clark are in full gear, checking everything that is needed for the benthic sampling is ready to go. Always prepared!
Dr. Pablo Escobar-Flores awaits to deploy the Bongo nets, allowing himself to be portraited.