Sampling, sampling, sampling

Day nine

Another day of CTD sampling. While this is happening there is a continued focus on getting data downloaded from the recovered moorings. This involves pulling apart the instrumentation that has sat inside the buoy for the last twelve months, deep in the sea, and connecting the instruments to laptops.

Later that afternoon, myself and several crew members, attended the monthly health and safety meeting run by Daniel (2nd mate on board). It's an opportunity to not only ensure that required health and safety jobs have been completed, but suggestions made by anyone on board are noted, discussed and assessed. Our meeting finishes around 5:00pm giving me the opportunity to get to know the crew before dinner.  It quickly becomes clear that when you live in such close quarter’s day in and day out, 24/7, a sense of humour goes a long way. A fantastic crew to have with us on this voyage!

About to start sampling

Day ten

Rebecca and I carried out CTD sampling until around 11am this morning - this is our last CTD station before we start to steam home to Wellington – by this stage we’re off the coastline around Westport. Eventually, it's time to start a clean-up of equipment. This involves water blasting buoys and scrubbing down equipment. I'm seeing all this fresh water we're using and wondering, where is it coming from (and will there be enough hot water for me to have a shower tonight…)? An offer to have a look around the engine room answers my question. 

Alan, chief engineer, shows me around the inner workings of the Tangaroa. He runs through a rather complex computer system that monitors engines, generators and the various bits of machinery that basically make the Tangaroa operate smoothly. At the centre of this all is the dynamic positioning system, a rather expensive system that enables the ship to pinpoint its exact location. I'm shown the tanks that hold our fresh water for the ship - so we’ve somewhat thrashed some of our water supplies by using a water blaster - but there's a system in place that replenishes this tank (and therefore, quietly, I'm assured of a hot shower this evening).

There are three engineers on board the ship. For a 10 day trip like ours we use about 6 tonnes of fuel each day and this fuel is, essentially, the same fuel that is used in a plane.

The winch system aboard the ship contains 10,000 metres of wire. What's most impressive about the Tangaroa is that we don't dump any waste overboard. There are clear protocols in place about protecting our environment. 

This is the CTD instrumentation being winched in by crew

This is the CTD instrumentation being winched in by crew

I also get a chance to sit down and have a chat to Erik who is a post-doc student. He is an ocean modeller and his interest is in climate change. We talk about how he came to apply to work here in New Zealand, science in Germany and how science is taught in New Zealand schools. Erik shares a number of computer animations of global sea currents from around the world that he put together as part of his PhD studies. The programme he uses is one which was originally designed for CT scans. 

Some of our science staff from left: matt (principal technican), Ailsa, Erik (post doc) and Joe (Voyage Leader)

Some of our science staff from left: Matt (principal technican), myself, Erik (post doc student) and Joe (voyage leader).