UWS student, Tiffany Cole, reports from calmer seas on Day 8 of the voyage from Hobart to Fremantle.
21 August 2011, 15:37hrs
After the craziness of a week’s worth of vomit and a close encounter with a line of squall, we emerged from our cabins this morning to find a beautiful, cloudless skyline atop a gently rolling sea, through which we had once again attained a satisfactory cruising speed of an easy 10 knots, bringing us within reach of our goal stations.
The morning began in the standard fashion of the previous few days (with bigger appetites and fewer dashes to the toilet) with lazy bodies sprawled all over the luxurious ‘P&O liner’, intent on soaking up the sun.
At 1530 hours we assembled on the bridge for a pyrotechnics demonstration where we were shown the handling and operation of a number of light and smoke flares which would normally be used in an emergency.
A light dinner and off to bed…until we arrived at the Esperance station at 11pm (grrr!) Then it was all hands on deck as we worked like a well-oiled machine to collect the samples we required in record time.
Initial deployments of the Neuston net were unsatisfactory as the vessel had slowed too much and insufficient water was passing through the net for any results to be comparable with those obtained previously however, coordinated deployment of the epi-benthic sled and the CTD saved us some time with poor Seb running frantically between the deployment A-frames to oversee the whole operation. The CTD depths varied slightly on those previously used with a near-surface sampling (50m depth) being included in the hopes of shedding light as to iron bioavailability in the photic zone. Due to the sampling location on a coastal shelf, the sandy cache of corals and other marine fauna brought forth from the depths in the epi-bentic sled was far more impressive and exciting than the sludge previously produced by this piece of equipment, with the sorting process continuing until well after breakfast.
A series of 3 smith-mac grabs followed by a further 3 neuston net collections were performed, with a 30cm Garfish being pulled up in the neuston net (lunch tomorrow!). EZ net sampling concluded our evening (or morning would be more accurate) with a number of wearied souls trudging off to bed and few people seen at breakfast the following morning.