Voyage leader's final update

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It's great to be home. 

The last few days of the voyage, we took a pounding. Maybe this has been the Southern Ocean’s payback for the relatively benign weather conditions we experienced for most of the voyage?

Storm-force headwinds from the north and swells over 6m made our progress slow and uncomfortable. A few of the staff on-board developed a mysterious “stomach cold” - surely not sea-sickness at this late stage of the voyage?! One of the wooden whale observation platforms and the forward ice light didn’t survive a particularly large wave over the bow and were broken off, but fortunately not swept overboard.

Weather and sea conditions eventually eased and we arrived in Wellington early on Wednesday morning.

Despite the rough conditions, most of the underway sampling has continued and the clean-up of the ship and lab spaces has begun. I have also started to compile the final voyage report (whilst holding onto the computer desk with one hand!).

Facts and figures

Facts and figures from the voyage include:

  • Nearly 15,000km travelled.
  • Over 520 hours of whale song recordings with more than 40,000 individual calls detected.
  • More than 21 groups of blue whales encountered, with photo-identification of 58 individuals (including re-sightings).
  • Biopsy samples from 11 humpback and blue whales.
  • 40 trawls (18 demersal tows and 22 midwater tows).
  • 111 species or species groups caught.
  • 3,129 fish and krill individually measured.
  • 370 biological sample lots retained for further analysis.
  • 345 gigabytes of echosounder acoustic data recorded.
  • Nearly 1,000 hours of continuous underway oceanographic and atmospheric data collection.
  • Over 3,500 litres of seawater filtered.
  • 35 on-board experiments to measure primary production.
  • 50 underway conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD) profiles.
  • Twelve Argo oceanographic floats deployed.
  • Nine deployments of a continuous plankton recorder (CPR).
  • 200 days recording time for moored echosounder monitoring silverfish migration in Terra Nova Bay over winter.
  • Eight scientific echosounders calibrated.
  • Ten video clips, as well as numerous stories, blogs, and still images, sent to media, websites, and social media.
  • One scientific paper already written (and many more to come).

As you can see we have been busy!

Thanks to all of you who were involved, either directly and indirectly, for making the NZ-Australia Antarctic Ecosystems voyage a great success.

Author: 
Richard O'Driscoll holds a solitary krill specimen up for the camera. [Dave Allen, NIWA]
Owen Anderson inspects a whale vertebra, one of the many treasures raised from the sea floor during a demersal fish trawl in the Ross Sea. [Dave Allen]
AAD's Susie Calderan deploying a sonobuoy. [Dave Allen, NIWA, NZ-Aus Antarctic Ecosystems voyage]
Humpback whale. Balleny Islands. [Credit: Dave Allen, NIWA, NZ-Aus Antarctic Ecosystems voyage]