We didn’t plan to see it

Life on the ship is governed by the “Plan of the Day”. It is posted on the ships intranet and lets everyone know what is happening when. Well this is Antarctica in the winter and nothing ever goes to plan. Our Chief scientist has largely given up on having an actual schedule for the plan of the day. Here is what today’s looked like. It covers midnight to midnight

We have been working on that last one “Calibrate” since before 9 am it is now 11 at night.  In addition to catching zooplankton in nets we are using echo-sounders (like super fancy fishfinders) to detect fish and zooplankton in the water. To best understand the results we get we need to calibrate the instruments.

How do you calibrate an echo-sounder? Well, you put a small metal sphere (that is perfectly spherical and of known size, mass and material), several meters directly below the echo-sounders. Then you “ping” on the ball and note the measurements you get from the returned echo.

On the NBP, the echo-sounders are mounted on the underside of the boat. It is a bit of a production to calibrate them. You need too find a sheltered, ice free area where the boat can safely anchor for a few hours. Then you use things that look like motorized fishing rods to position the sphere under the ship. The first time we tried to calibrate it was too windy and we had to abort. Today we have been hounded by ice and wind.

In our quest to find a good spot too calibrate, we have sailed by some very lovely spots. Here are the places and avian faces I have seen on this calibration quest.

Ok, that may have been a gratuitous Smith Island photo. We weren’t going to calibrate near it. Two nights ago we started talking about calibrating when we were near Smith Island.

It was far too icy to calibrate near Smith Island.



Today we headed for Neslon Straits so that we could cross into more protected waters on the other side of King George Island. That’s right, we are returning to the same area where we dropped of the freshies for the Polish Arctowski Station. There is a reason why there are so many stations on that Island- lots of area protected from the wind and storms  and very easy to get in with a big ship.


The land around Nelson Strait has everything, rocky outcrops, glacier and ice shelves.   The underwater world is also filled with tasty krill, which attracts a lot of birds to the area.

There were so many birds in Nelson Straits. It was just unbelievable. It certainly kept the bird and mammal observers busy counting!

As we exited Nelson Strait there was a lovely sunset. The sky just lit up.

We still have several more hours of sailing before we reach the next location where we can try to calibrate. I guess I will find out what happened and what the new plan is when I wake up in the morning.