WRITTEN ON LEG ONE FROM PLYMOUTH TO AZORES WITH ROTHY’S

Exactly 96 hours into Leg 1, we appeased King Neptune enough to allow us to start doing some science.

It was a fairly calm day at sea with the winds dying down for just enough time for most of the crew to be able to stand up straight in the vessel, for things that needed to be fixed to be fixed AAANNNDDD calm enough for water samples to be taken so we could start on some science.

Needless to say the team was really keen to get started on this part of the journey, as we have been hearing so much about the science and this is really what is going to instruct solutions at the other end of this mission. This round the world science program is quite a special thing to be a part of, with a group of multidisciplinary scientists, and with samples covering both land and sea.

So, to start off with, we brought up the Niskin Bottles to the deck. These bottles are designed to collect water samples at depth when the cap is triggered shut and traps water from 25m below the surface. Unfortunately, the cap didn’t close as we couldn’t get the line vertical at sea, so that was set aside for now, while we figured out a way to redesign it.

Emily then got out the manta trawl to get water samples. It looks like a metal hammer head shark when in the water – just less dangerous 😉

So, the metal portion is the swimmer, which is attached to a net and a cod end which collects all the samples by the end of 30 minutes which is how long the device is left in the water. While the device was in the water, we recorded the flow of the water, the time it went in and out, and longitude and latitude of where the sample was collected.

We were lucky with the water being so calm that we managed to do two trawls of samples. The first sample was washed into the sieve which is has three levels, each of differing microns in measurement. These samples were then individually picked up according to levels and analysed, put into containers which are then labelled and kept in the freezer till we manage to get them to the lab.

The second sample was then labelled as a blind sample, and the entire sample is stored without classification or separation.

It is truly incredible the amount of plastic that we were finding this far away from the shore… in fragments and small bits, but it’s still there on the surface of the water.

The day ended with a yummy curry dinner, and of course the weather gods decided we had had enough of a respite and the rains have come back with a vengeance, complete with winds and high waves.

Bring it on!