Sunday, 19 August 2012

A Rough Start

Stanton Banks are a series of granite rises which outcrop from the seafloor south of the Outer Hebrides (approx. 124km west of UK mainland). Stanton Banks was designated as an SAC in 2008 and has now been accepted as a Site of Community Importance. Five surveys have been conducted on Stanton Banks, which confirm the presence of Annex I reef. The aim of this survey is to acquire further information on the presence and extent of Annex I reef and additional data to help develop a baseline for future monitoring of the site.
After a couple of small teething problems (including electrical failure onboard the vessel) leading to a minor delay to the survey departure, we have finally set sail bound for Stanton Banks. We departed Oban at 1300hrs on Friday 17th August and sailed through calm seas to arrive at Stanton Banks at 2200hrs. The Pole Star is proving herself to be an incredibly rocky ship even with very little swell of just 1m. Acclimatising to this is proving to be a challenge in itself but all in all, we are all in ship shape.
I should mention who 'we' all are: Gareth Johnson and myself (Becca Lowe) from JNCC, Simon Pearson and Jo Murray from CEFAS and Kirsten Crombie and Gillian Horner from BGS. BGS are currently hard at work using acoustic techniques to measure bathymetry of the seabed so that we can decide where best to take video and biological samples.
On a less technical note, the food is top notch (if you can manage to keep it down!) and I also spotted a pod of common dolphins yesterday evening and this morning jumping beside the vessel. I didn't have my camera with me at the time but hopefully some wildlife pictures to come....
Becca Lowe