I love sea ice, in all of its manifestations. I really do. This trip we had so much open water, I longed for the day when the ship would be surrounded by ice- preferably thick first year ice with seals and penguins on top.
Well that day finally came- sort of. For the past few days we have been slogging through ice. Science has slowed to a snail’s pace
We are trying to get some sampling done. We have taken water samples with our CTD (Connectivity, Temperature, Depth sensors and it has an array of water bottles to collected samples). The CTD is fragile but we can usually blow a hole in the ice, drop it in,, and trust the rigid frame to protect it.
So have this chunky ice. We can’t get the net in, because the ice will shred it (we already shredded one net in ice this trip). We try to get the CTD in, and the whole time the cast is going on we are fretting, worrying that we will lose or destroy, a very expensive piece of equipment in the ice. And every waking (and sleeping moment) Captain and his bridge crew are fretting about hitting hidden icebergs, so we are going glacially slow. We actually had to stop dead still for four hours while the engineers repaired a shaft that sprung an internal leak after we hit some ice. (Big tough icebreaker, eh?)
So this ice is frustrating and pretty useless. I mean big chunky ice could be could for krill. And big flat pieces of ice are preferred resting spots for seals, but there are very few upper level predators here. We haven’t caught krill in days. It’s just been T.mac and friends in our tows
So we are going slow- catching no krill, the bird and mammal team are seeing few animals, and the phytoplankton team is terrified that their equipment is going to get destroyed.
But as this blog title says. this ice is useless. It slows us down, doesn’t have penguins or seals on it, and there is no krill lurking underneath. The chief scientist made the decision to turn the boat around and head back to the Bransfield. If we are going to get stymied by ice, it may as well be good ice. We can see from the satellite imagery that there is more ice there now- but it is the useful kind of ice. There are krill in the Bransfield. And the ice may even be thick enough to support the weight of seals and penguins! Here’s hoping that when I come on to shift tomorrow, there are seals on ice!