We left Portland yesterday with a crisp early spring's sun already beginning it's descent at our backs. Having boarded Cefas' good ship Endeavour at around 09:00 that morning, we were already making ourselves at home in the myriad of passageways and decks that encompass the vessel which will be our home for the next fortnight. We also passed the time meeting the crew, having a safety induction, discussing the survey plan with our colleagues, putting last touches to our preparation work and getting acquainted with the mess (and all the lovely food and tea available there!). At around 15:30 the Portland pilot vessel came alongside, and by 16:00 we were underway. Steaming south-easterly, we steered a course for Wight-Barfleur Reef cSAC, the first of two such sites we hope to gather seabed data from during coming fortnight. More information on these sites can be found on our website (www.jncc.gov.uk).
Mustering for survival! (Photo Neil Golding, JNCC)
Portland Pilot (Photo Neil Golding, JNCC)
To maximise the amount of valuable data that can be collected while at sea, the crew were divided into 12-hour day and night shifts so that work could continue round the clock. The first night shift can be a bit of a shock to the system as it takes time to adapt to the nocturnal lifestyle. Fuelled by good old fashioned tea power, the first task for the night watch was to finish collecting acoustic data from an area larger than Lake Windermere on the eastern edge of Wight Barfleur Reef cSAC. Multibeam and sidescan sonar use sound to measure the depth of the sea bed and can give an indication of the type of seabed habitat likely to be present. Although it can be a bit monotonous, so far this work looks like it will yield some good quality data to help us better describe the undersea features of this area, including what could be an undiscovered shipwreck!