Wednesday, 11 May 2011


This morning I successfully got out of bed at 4am, hopefully my sleep pattern will be fairly set for the upcoming month of 4am shifts. However I was somewhat helped along by the fact that everyone on board has moved their clocks back by an hour to synch with the GMT equipment. So my 4am is britain's 5am- not quite so unsociable for the sleep adjustment!

A roam around the ship and into the main lab saw that we were already halfway through a multibeam swath over our test area, and about 3hours away from the Darwin Mounds (check the map below for an idea of where that is). The idea was to check that the ground was fairly flat and then test the corroboration between the multibeam versus the ROV and the Autosub data.

So I got myself Earl Grey Tea'd up, donned my wet weather gear (just in case, the clouds were threatening) and headed out to the gantry above the aft deck for a view of the ROV deployment and a bit of bird spotting.

The ROV test was successful, but the Autosub was not. It never left the deck due to a software failure which they are now frantically trying to amend before we get to the Darwin Mounds, otherwise all our Backscatter and Side Scan Sonar data will not be available in advance of the ROV transects and Cores, all of which ideally need to be targeted using the acoustic data from the autosub. Fingers crossed all gets fixed soon. Meanwhile we are underway to the Darwin Mounds, eta 2.30pm.Our test site was due west of the northernmost of the Orkney Isles and North West of the island of North Rona. We are now heading futher north to the Darwin Mounds.

A view of the Aft Deck with the ROV to the right (you can just see the top of it's "garage" basket and the winch it's attached to), the Autosub dead ahead though out of sight (under the white crane rack in front of the white container dubbed the "autosub viewing shack") and some of the coring equipment stacked to the far left.
This is my montage of the ROV set up. The winch is used to lower the ROV in it's "garage" or TMS (Tether Management System) to the sea floor, then the little yellow SeaEye Lynx is driven out along the seafloor and then back again where a winch system winds in it's yellow tether and the ROV is reversed back into it's garage before being hoisted back to the surface and back on deck.

Launching the ROV are Leighton (who runs the blog) and Kelly.
The ROV and it's Garage taking the plunge.
Biologist Brian Bett watching a close up of a squat lobster (Munida rugosa) on the live feed from the ROV in the Main Lab.
The Autosub6000 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle(AUV) which did not get tested in the end. Fingers crossed it is set to go in a few hours time.One of our constant companions out here, the elegant Gannet.We were told to expect some stragglers along the way: migrant birds often stop for a rest using ships as floating islands. This is Russel Wynn, our resident charismatic megafauna expert, holding todays straggler- a swallow, first seen on the Aft Deck but caught in the video room!

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