Sunday, 7 August 2011

Milly: Ugly Fish pt 3

Milly: Ugly Fish pt 1
Milly: Ugly Fish pt 2
Milly: Ugly Fish pt 4
Milly: Ugly Fish pt 5
Milly: Ugly Fish Pt 6
Milly: Ugly Fish Pt 7

I've just realised it's also unlucky to look at a picture
of a pig. This does not bode well...
It appears we nightshifters are cursed. Possibly because we are a team of 6 women and only one man. Bad luck. Maybe it's because I decided to bring green overalls which apparently make me look like I work in a garden centre, not quite the look I was going for. If this was a commercial trawler I'd have been thrown overboard for wearing green, but I would have had to pass myself off as a man first to step foot on that ship. I've been hearing about all sorts of strange superstitions, an alarming number are pig related. The word pig mustn't be used and if you see a pig on your way to the ship, well, you might as well go home. This all seems to be based on the Garadene swine, the unlucky pigs Jesus cast a load of demons into when he exorcised them from a madman. Oh and then the pigs drowned, so that makes loads of sense. Apparently this is why pigs have so many alternative names, grunter, porker etc. Strange.

Whoops, massive tangent. So the nightshifters on two accounts now have been ready to roll, mud slicing equipment at the ready, and twice the megacorer (mud sampling device) has come back with empty tubes. We have had some fun at 2am prancing around in fishing gear however.

Juliette checking out the amphipod catch
Hundreds of tiny amphipods caught in the baited trap

What have been more successful are the amphipod traps and towed camera, WASP. Amphipods are a bit like marine cockroaches, the crustacean scavengers of the deep. Hugely speciose, they come in all shapes, sizes and colours but one thing they have in common is they all scurry around eating dead stuff. Four traps, baited with possibly the worst smelling mackerel on the planet, were deployed to the bottom of PAP, about 4000m. They came up brimming with amphipods, ready to be barcoded by the geneticists.

Scientists having a gander at the WASP footage
The towed camera WASP (wide area seafloor photography) has been taking pictures of the sea floor as the ship has been sailing along. Makes your average biological transect seem pretty lame, in comparison. This equipment gives scientists a glimpse of what the seafloor looks like without (too much) disturbance. It looks to me like the surface of the moon, covered in hundreds of tracks made by holothurians (sea cucumbers) and a hefty amount of cucumber crap. They are bizarre looking creatures with weird abilities like turning their bodies to liquid to squeeze through gaps or turning themselves inside out to evade predation. But, what they seem to be extraordinarily good at is crapping, and crapping in the most delightful way!
Cucumber crap. Isn't it nice!

On that note I better get some sleep, trawl will be coming up soon and I'm definitely not mentally prepared.

1 comment:

Tania Hershman said...

Gosh, it's like you're visiting an alien planet - I love these reports! It really does seem to me like an entirely different country, especially re pig superstition. Hmm...I look forward to more!