Retrieving mooring after a year in the ocean

Day four


Today I’m being trained by Fiona (one of our marine physics technicians) to take a water sample on the CTD instrument. The CTD is the primary research tool for oceanographers. At the heart of it are the probes which measure pressure, temperature, conductivity, and dissolved oxygen.

We take samples for salinity and oxygen, and in doing this we need to monitor the appearance of bubbles that appear in the samples taken. We test samples the same way each time to ensure we end up with accurate data.

I also learned how to monitor the depth of the CTD instrument in the water using the PC in the ship’s lab. This means monitoring the depth of the CTD, and when it is at the correct depth, telling the crew member who is managing the winch to stop the winch and then ‘fire’ the bottle. (Firing the bottle means releasing the bottle so a water sample at that depth can be taken.)

As the bottle is released, a science staff member (in this case, me) notes the CTD scan number and the depth (or pressure) which is indicated on screen on a CTD Cast Log.

The reason we’re taking these samples is to get data which can be analysed to improve our understanding about ocean processes and ecosystems.

Recovery of first mooring:

Huge success for the team today…the first of three moorings has been recovered after a year in the ocean!


The mooring is recovered

Cleaning mooring

Mike and the first mooring

The mooring contains ACDP equipment (which measures the speed of water). Data collected by the equipment is transferred into a different format so Fiona and Mike (our other Marine Physics Technician) can give it a quality control check.

Because the recovery can potentially go ‘belly up’, there are strict safety procedures around use of safety gear and where we can be on the boat during the recovery.

The recovery process goes smoothly, a joint effort between science staff (Fiona and Mike) and the Tangaroa Crew. It gives us exactly the result that was wanted.

The mooring, having spent a year in the ocean, needs to be water blasted. I wonder who is lined up for the job…

Cleaning mooring

Emergency Drill

Emergency drills are held regularly on the Tangaroa. It’s a chance to remind everyone about safety procedures, especially those of us who are ‘newbies’.

Today the drill is held at 1pm at the ‘muster station’. I arrive and see three crew holding fire nozzles. I know what I’ll be doing shortly.

We have a roll call. Then we are introduced to several different nozzle types that anyone may have to use in a genuine emergency. There is also a foam spray. Everyone is given the chance to use these and familiarise ourselves with them. A chance to let loose for a few seconds.

When I’m not working I find myself sleeping for extended periods. Meal times are set: dinner is at 5:30pm. Because I finished at 3:00pm, I put my head down just for a quick cat nap and end up sleeping through dinner. Second night I’ve done this!

Mental note to self – set alarm.

Getting used to a routine of broken sleep. Kind of.