Friday 21 March 2014

Gale Force 8: East Shetland Basin lives up to its reputation

Bad weather has sadly coincided with our arrival at the Fladen grounds, approximately 80 miles south-east of the Shetland Isles. With nearly 5-metre swell waves and gusts of up to 50 knots (57 mph), our survey work is being severely hampered. It’s unsafe to use either our grabs or the towed camera sledge in these conditions, so in the meantime we are attempting to collect multi-beam acoustic (echo sounder) data, to determine the depth and shape of the sea floor. Otherwise all we can do is sit out the gale and keep busy checking the data already collected, catching the odd mug of tea as it attempts to fall over.

Taking in the breeze from the bridge of the Cefas Endeavour (JNCC/Cefas).

Cefas Endeavour heads through rather than over a wave (JNCC/Cefas).

The bird life around us is either loving or hating these conditions. Gannets, fulmars and kittiwakes are in their element, while a couple of much smaller birds have sought refuge on (or even inside) the ship.

Gannets Morus bassanus have been cruising past, unfazed by the conditions (JNCC/Cefas).

Kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla have been wheeling around the stern of the ship during the bad weather (JNCC/Cefas).
This meadow pipit Anthus pratensis turned up inside the ship but proved pretty nifty on a computer, so we put it to work on some acoustic data checking (JNCC/Cefas).