Wednesday 4 June 2014

Dogger's in the Bank!

According to North Sea legend, there exists a merry elf-like creature called a Klabautermann who helps sailors and fishermen with their duties on ship. While none of us here have actually seen one of these good willed sprites, we must surely have had one on board given how smoothly everything has gone on this trip!

Sailing into the sunset (A. Cunha, JNCC)
All in all it’s been a pretty epic survey; we’ve been operating around the clock for 456 hours, collected samples from more than 400 stations over an area roughly a third the size of Wales, sifted our way through around two thousand litres of sediment and captured over 30 hours of video footage of the seabed. The data we’ve collected will now be processed and analysed back on shore, the results will give us plenty to pore over in the next few months. The outputs from our survey will allow us to get a much better understanding of how the biological communities at Dogger Bank respond to anthropogenic pressures and natural processes, how we can monitor these changes and how different sampling gear can affect your results. 

An Ocean Quahog, Arctica Islandica (A. Cunha, JNCC)

We had an exciting end to our penultimate day shift when we found a huge Arctica islandica in our grab. These bivalved behemoths are really rare and can live for hundreds of years (the oldest recorded, nicknamed ‘Ming’, was thought to be over 500 years old!). After recording its measurements, we returned this fella to the ocean, where it will probably live for many decades to come.

The Day Shift, plus 'floaters'! (A. Cunha, JNCC)
The Night Shift, taken by their camera shy shift lead (P. McIlwaine, Cefas)
To sign off, we’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved in the survey. It’s been a really successful trip, especially as we’ve managed to meet all our main objectives and more to boot. None of this, of course, would have been possible without the skill and professionalism of the officers and crew of the RV Cefas Endeavour as well as the experience and expertise of our partners at Cefas, including Scientist in Charge Dr Sue Ware. 

Stay tuned for future instalments from our next survey later on in the year!