Thursday, 30 May 2013

1 - Getting ready!

Loading the RRS James Cook
Hello everybody and welcome to the blog!

Last preparations are under way at the dockside in sunny Glasgow, as the crew and scientific party of the Royal Research Ship (RRS) James Cook (follow ship’s position in real time) are getting ready to sail for the "Down to the Twilight Zone" expedition tomorrow morning at 08:00.

Before heading out to our destination in the North Atlantic, the PAP site, we will be going North for a short detour to recover a glider. Even though the location of this autonomous underwater vehicle can easily be found via GPS, it isn't an easy job to actually find the nearly two-metre long glider in the vast ocean. Therefore we were happy when at approx. 05:45 in the morning our glider expert, Gillian Damerell spotted the glider and around 30 minutes later the deck crew pulled it on board. The preliminary investigation showed that a small leak had caused the malfunction. However, for a proper analysis of the glider it will be taken back to land.

The deck crew skillfully wrangles
the glider back on board
Dr Gillian assesses the 'patient'

Our general mission is to study the link between marine snow and marine microorganisms, like small crustaceans, in the twilight zone of the oceans. These interactions are strongly connected to our planet's climate, even though many details have remained a mystery up to now. So hopefully our work here will contribute to shedding some light on this dimly known region of the deep. The expedition is just one of several international expeditions this year, focusing on North Atlantic ecosystems as part of the EURO-BASIN and BASIN Initiatives. In fact as we are about to set sail, our colleagues on the Norwegian research vessels G.O.Sars will be concluding an expedition to Greenland, studying the boundary between the North Atlantic and the Arctic (follow blog and video casts in Norwegian and visit the G.O. Sars  Facebook page, also in Norwegian).

We hope you will sign up (on the right side of the page) for the regular updates from the “Down to the Twilight Zone” expedition and follow us, the scientists and crew, over the coming two weeks for some exciting science!

Reporting from on-board the RSS James Cook,
Chris and Antony

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