Thursday, 5 July 2012

To the Abyss!

The tug boat maneuvering us out of port and away from NOC

Leaving Southampton behind us (click to enlarge)

And we're off! After a relatively calm day yesterday to arrive and get acquainted with our new living arrangements aboard ship, we finally left Southampton harbour at lunchtime today, heading out on our way to the abyss! So far we've not really had much to do aside from going through the normal start-of-cruise safety and science briefings, and getting to know the other scientists and the ship so it's been quite a relaxed couple of days (which is a nice break after the chaos of preparing for the cruise!).

We have old skool life jackets!

Inside the life raft, listening to why abandoning ship would be all kinds of horrendous.

We've got a long way to go to get to our study site in the Porcupine Abyssal Plain (PAP), which means we'll not be arriving until first thing on Sunday, with a stop-off en route on Saturday to collect some 'shallow' mud and water samples (from only 1000m!) for one of the other PhD students. Saying that, there's plenty of preparatory work to be done to make sure all our equipment and computers are working properly and that we're ready to cope with the deluge of data we're expecting to get from the AUV on a daily basis. All being well, I'll have amassed an absolutely enormous collection of photographs by the time we come home (current estimates suggest we'll be getting 40,000 photos per day from each of the two cameras), and will have photographically and acoustically mapped an area of seabed of approximately 50km2, making this the largest and most detailed attempt to map a deep-sea area ever conducted! Hopefully with all those photographs I'll get to see plenty of fish!

Southampton harbour (click to enlarge).
In slightly different news, I've also been asked to keep the official NOC blog up to date as we go through the cruise, so if reading one blog by me isn't enough, you can pop over to and read that one too! Though in fairness, the NOC one will be written by lots of different people, so you'll at least get plenty of variety!