Evolutionary ecology

Southern Ocean: salps, krill, and whales

Torborg's Master thesis in the Southern Ocean: Letter 19.2.2016 — More trawling...

View of Southern Ocean with icebergs
The cruise is taking place around the South Orkney Islands.
Liam Quinn/Wikimedia Commons

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Day 20. Much has happened over the last week, including a small fire, a hurricane and having to eat a salp. More importantly though, we’ve done the sampling, and right now Saga Sea is back in business fishing for krill. 

Trawling for samples is only a part of the research which is conducted here, but it is where I get the data for my thesis work. There were 25 sampling points divided on 5 transect-lines around the South Orkneys and we sampled most of them (bad weather kept us from doing all). It was quite striking to me how different some of the points were, like getting buckets of just krill or only salps, going from many kilos in total catch to nothing at all or a few grams. What I did, or helped doing, was to sort the samples, identify, count, weigh, take pictures and preserve some of the species I was unsure of. After that I’ve been going through CTD data, and will analyse all of this when I get back to Bergen.

There is still other research going on aboard the ship while fishing, so now I’m tagging along for some of these to learn more about krill and the ongoing projects.  No denying I feel like a proper scientist in my hockey helmet (the only helmet that stays on in this weather) and steel tip boots. Most of the time is now however not spent outside, but in the wheelhouse, which is an excellent spot to watch the whales feeding on the enormous amounts of krill.