It demands good communications to operate a research survey that collects samples for 19 research projects in six different labs, operates 24-hours a day and has a personal of 8 scientists and a crew of 17. The magic to make this run smoothly is a daily meeting. Every evening, after the news, we meet and discuss what we did the last 24-hours and organize the next 24-hours. The 19 research projects have different sampling schedule and the catch is never the same, hence, every station and every day is different.
In this blog, we will tell you a bit about our average day. We sample three to five standardized “banana” surface trawl stations per day and have done 49 stations in the survey so far.
In the fish lab, we measure and sample the trawl catch. For mackerel, herring, and blue whiting length, weight, sex and maturity is recorded. Otoliths are collected and aged onboard. Stomach samples are frozen and analysis ashore. Mackerel gonads are collected for scientists in Norway. All other trawl catch is sorted by species and specimen length measured.
Please, click on pictures for explanations.
We also trawl deeper in the water column (trawl depth ranging from 100 to 400m) to ground truth acoustic backscatter. It can be challenging to identify the many different species caught in the deep tows. Catch from the deep tows is frozen to be used in an international research project. All salmon is frozen and analysed ashore.
In the fish processing area, live lumpfish is placed in a tank to recover from being caught, tagged and released. We have tagged 196 lumpfish in the survey so far. One of them was recaptured July 22 and had travelled 271 km in 16 days.
On the floor above the fish lab is the zooplankton lab, phytoplankton lab and the CTD probe room. Zooplankton samples are collected at 50m and 200m depth, sorted by species and size, weighted and stored either formaldehyde or frozen. Samples from the MIK-net are also brought to the zooplankton lab where the fish larvae are sorted to species, counted and stored in ethanol. Ashore size and age, in days, of capelin larvae will be measured.
The CTD probe continuously measures temperature and salinity from the surface to 500m and collects water samples at the surface, 20m, 50, 200m, and 500m depth. In the phytoplankton lab, seawater samples are filtered to collect eDNA and to measure primary production. Nutrient seawater samples are frozen and analysis ashore. There is also a seawater intake in the phytoplankton lab that is used for continuous measurements of fluorescence.
In the acoustic room we have stacks of computers to work with. This is where the control room for the acoustic equipments, hence the name. The computers are connected to different equipmetns in various location on the vessel. Among other activities, we live view the acoustic data and analyse it, log survey process, check recordings from continuous sensors and from trawl sensors. Write this blog.
On the top is the bridge controlled by Heimir and his team. The bridge is the spot where you are most likely to spot a whale and that is where we keep our whale sightings logbook. On the top of bridge there is a sensor that continuously records strength of light.
Most important part of the operation is the clever, resourceful and fun crew of R/V Arni Fridriksson. Without their help we would not get anything done. More about them soon.