We are on the return leg now, only a days steaming away from Vigo, Spain, where the James Cook will dock. Everyone is busy packing away their volumous, generally fragile, scientific equipment and finishing off the last-minute jobs before they return. Many are copying vital ancillary data from various computers around the ship, such as navigation and oceanographic data, that will provide a context for their work. We have been so successful at collecting video data that these are proving the most difficult to copy – there are nearly 10 terabytes of video taking many days to backup completely. All the samples of various deep-water animals have been preserved and carefully packed up for their journey back to the UK in the ship. The larger equipment (including ISIS) will be loaded onto a large lorry in Vigo and transported back to the UK by road. The few people who have finished packing and documenting their activities are on deck enjoying some of the first sunshine of the cruise.
Earlier on in the day we all presented the work we have been doing over the last six weeks in the conference room on board. It was good to remind each other of exactly why we have been running around on the ship desperately trying to gather as much scientific data as possible. It was impressive to see the amount of information that has been collected and the initial insights on a whole variety of biological processes that have been already obtained. Of course, there is still a huge amount of work to do at home to analyse and interpret the data and to write the work up for other scientists to be able to see what we did. It was also a good opportunity for the ROV team to see how all their hard work paid off putting into practice the apparently impossible, or at least very optimistic, dreams of the scientists! After all, without the help and expertise of the technical experts onboard, none of the science would be possible.
Only 12 hours to go…