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  • Writer's pictureJim McNeill

Foundation I - Day Four

Science and Birthday Celebs

Just before we left the UK, five marine technical instrumentation companies approached me to take and play with science kit they want to provide to Ocean Warrior. This was fabulous news and probably due to the fact that I had managed to hijack/kidnap/persuade over many months Professor Icarus Allen, the Chief Exec of Plymouth Marine Laboratories (PML) to come onboard Linden to help me evaluate exactly what we can achieve with Linden, in terms of both science and citizen science. Huge thanks should also go to Professor James Fishwick, Technical Director at PML who introduced Ocean Warrior and myself to these companies.

The problem was, days before departure, we simply could not get much on the aircraft to Longyearbyen and so we ended up with a state-of-the-art CTD device from Valeport. It looked like and functioned much the same as something out of a James Bond or Mission Impossible movie but it was small and wholly contained in a handheld pelicase and would provide us with something to trial.

After a wonderful breakfast at 07:30 (same each morning, to coincide with the watch change over) we settled in the lounge for a presentation/lecture from Icarus on the basics of oceanography. This was excellent and received very well by everyone onboard, including the ProCrew.

A CTD measures Conductivity, Temperature and Depth and this particular device also measures the amount of chlorophyl a, present. Without getting too technical these are fundamental parameters for oceanographers to derive an indication of the health of the ocean and what is happening with different depths.

I presented said machine and having read the idiot sheet which came with the Valeport SWiFT CTD Plus, we set about seeing whether we could work it. Luckily for me it was incredibly simple to operate and we took several sample profiles over the edge of the ship and down to a depth of 15 metres. Icarus kindly described what we were seeing in the results – see below.

Having had a hugely informative morning we weighed anchor and set sail after lunch at 13:30 hrs.

The ocean was like a mirror. No wind or waves at all and gentle motoring was the mode.

Eddy Devlin, one of two journalists onboard and keen twitcher, recorded: a King Eider female duck with 3 chicks, 72 Northern Fulmars, 1 Black Guillemot, 10 Arctic Terns, 14 Atlantic Puffins, 9 Kittiwake, and several whales (Minke we thought) and a feeding pod of dolphins.

News soon spread that it was Hannah’s 18th Birthday (part of the ProCrew) and to celebrate we were venturing out to the 80º North line of latitude, pointing in the direction of the Geographic North Pole. Here Hannah and the whole of the ProCrew pumped up two inflatable Pink Flamingos and a Zebra put them on and jumped off the ship into the freezing but still water. This set off some kind of masochistic tsunami wave which engulfed most of the Ocean Warrior Crew who promptly stripped off and leapt like lemmings into the frigid ocean. “Great show” I said until Andy took it upon himself to dive (9 out of 10) and didn’t come up immediately prompting a few moans from me about getting wet trying to save him. But all was well when he robustly swam to the surface, over to the ships ladder and hauled his way out in a manly fashion. Fully deserved, cake, cards, birthday song and hot chocolate followed! What an 18th birthday to remember!



Start: Smeerbukta 79.73º North 10.84º East

Finish: Reinsdyrflya, Woodfjorden 79.79º North 13.97º East

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