Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Fog on the brine

On Thursday afternoon, JNCC staff from Peterborough and Aberdeen boarded the MRV Scotia, which will be our home for the next two weeks. The original plan was to set off from Aberdeen harbour at 05:30 on Friday morning, but due to heavy fog (causing poor visibility) and the tides our departure was delayed until midday. The captain told us that we’d been lucky to get out of the harbour when we did because the fog was rolling back leaving a narrow window in which we could make our departure. We are all keen to start the survey of the Pobie Bank Reef cSAC!

We steamed up the east coast of Scotland past Fraserburgh and Peterhead to an area known as the Southern Trench, where we started the calibration of the survey equipment, including testing the cameras and acoustic equipment. We had heard that killer whales had been spotted outside of Peterhead a few days previously, so we were keeping our eyes peeled for cetaceans. From the bow, we spotted a blow in the distance. Very excited, we scanned the horizon and saw the dorsal fin of a minke whale. It was moving fast in differing directions, and once even surfaced within a stone’s throw of the ship!

During the steam we also spotted puffins, gannets, razorbills, kittiwakes, fulmars and guillemots. We also had an unusual visit from a kestrel. We think it got lost in the fog, and it is now resting in a sheltered area of the ship.

Puffin in the fog


Kestrel on the ship

Overnight we continued the journey towards the Pobe Bank Reef cSAC, and we should arrive at the first survey area by lunchtime. The plan is to start by collecting multibeam and sidescan data, which will help us understand the composition of the seabed and help inform our groundtruthing strategy.