Thursday 17th June 2010

Today has been a bit of a slow day in terms of science, we had a successful megacore in the early hours and Jess’ yoyo CTD went into the water too, but it currently remains there due to bad weather making recovery impractical. This has also meant that plans to recover the amphipod trap and deploy the ROV are also on hold. When everything is on hold due to bad weather, us students come into our own and put our powers of procrastination to good use. As the youngest and most junior scientists onboard, Debbie and myself like to consider ourselves the masters of this, which is especially useful when we’re on the night shift and the ROV cannot go in water because of the weather.

Here is our top 10 (in no particular order):

Noughts & Crosses: A classic.

Fish-Wrapping: While the fish Thom attracts to his PAL lander are happy with a crucified mackerel, amphipods are far more tricky, so the bait we use requires wrapping neatly in muslin. After some practice I’ve gotten this down to an art form, defrosted mackerel never looked so good!

Naming Equipment: After the colour and shininess, the name of a piece of kit is most important. Much effort has gone into naming Jess’ new light box-thingamajig, which following standard practice must have a long-winded name that tells you limited information about the equipment but has a cool acronym. The name is yet to be finalised but so far we’ve gone through all of the Norse gods (FREYA, LOKI etc), Star Wars ships (DEATH STAR), and foodstuffs (RAVIOLI, and my personal favourite PARSNIP – we even went so far as to make a logo).

Parsnip logo

Sorting Amphipods: The new amphipod trap is both shiny and efficient at catching amphipods, this means there are a few thousand of the little darlings to sort every time we get a new catch, which takes a fair bit of time.

Making Paper Snowflakes: We were sat in the ROV van filling time between transects and someone had left scissors on the desk, making snowflakes was the least destructive thing we could think of, although Debbie has mentioned she wants a haircut…

Singing Songs from Muppet Treasure Island: This needs no explanation.

Learning to Tie Knots: Theoretically we should be learning how to tie useful nautical knots, but Dan showed us that you can make juggling balls out of ‘monkey fists’ so that is the main focus for the time being.

Megacoring: While we don’t get involved in the complicated analysis bit, Mark always appreciates a hand with cutting and sieving cores, which basically means playing with mud, which is always fun! We still haven’t gone down the mud sculpturing route though…at least not yet.

Mud from the megacorer

Speaking Latin: Scientific names are always Latinised or Greekified, really useful for identification but really hard to remember (thank you Linnaeus!). Unfortunately referring to a worm as ‘that one with the round swirly poo’ is frowned upon by the scientific community, so learning a dead language is the only option. Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus!

The Opposites Game: Pick anything you want and try to determine it’s opposite. The opposite of salt is sugar, therefore adding sugar to seawater would make it palatable (this may not be true, sea survival 101: never drink seawater!). Pepper’s opposite is cinnamon, and bleach and vinegar are mortal enemies!

Grant Duffy

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