This morning we steamed into Wilhelmina Bay, the northernmost of our sampling areas. The water is full of various size pieces of ice, mostly broken off from the glaciers and in various degrees of melting. There are pieces the size of dinner plates, up to small ice bergs the size of houses! As these ice chunks have melted over the early spring, the turn and roll, and melt into beautiful and intricate patterns! We saw a few small bergs shaped like bridges, one with saw teeth all along the top, and another that looked rather like a dragon! Everyone found time to be out on deck and many of us were taking photos, and trying to apply what Chris taught us about physics and optics of photography in his seminar presentation yesterday.
First up on the agenda after reaching the bay was to do a quick deployment of our smallest and simplest net, the ring net, to get an idea of what organisms are present. When we were here last winter we caught only a few small copepods in each ring net – but today the ring net was full of large diatoms! (See the post from earlier today for a picture). We also caught a few larval fish, which look like they may grow up to be icefish, one of the fascinating creatures found only here in Antarctica (you can see an adult in our video from last year). The other exciting creature in our net was a pteropod, sometimes called a sea butterfly.
We also tested the krill camera system, to make sure all the components work even when under >20 atmospheres worth of pressure, which is what it experiences at 200 meters deep in the water.
Then it was on to the search for krill! Krill are typically found in aggregations – so in some places there are lots of krill, and in some places there are almost none.
We found what we think is some krill with the acoustics, and set up all of our nets.
That’s all for now – time for me to get my boots on and get ready to catch krill!