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Blog: Dolphins farewell RV Tangaroa - 9 February

RV Tangaroa is farewelled by a pod of dolphins as it heads off on its 12th voyage to the white continent.

Footage courtesy of Kareen Schnabelke.

Our first station was only an hour and a half after departing Wellington, where we deployed the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR). This instrument was first used in the 1920’s, and has since been deployed millions of times, in every ocean on the planet. The CPR is towed behind the ship at regular speed (10-12 knots), and captures planktonic animals inhabiting the upper 5-10m of the ocean, known as zooplankton.

The CPR will be towed for the entire transect to the Ross Sea, thus allowing scientists to investigate patterns of zooplankton distributions over large portions of the Southern Ocean, as well as trends in abundance over time. Past studies based on CPR sampling have documented large scale changes in marine environments, for instance copepod communities in the North Atlantic were found to have shifted to higher latitudes over the past five decades, as ocean temperatures warm and species preferred habitats move poleward.

The CPR will contribute to monitoring the food-web of the Southern Ocean and the Ross Sea, which is highly productive and supports numerous apex predators (e.g. orcas). Zooplankton assemblages are also very sensitive to variability in ocean conditions, often too subtle to be detected with direct measurements, and can thus indicate broad trends within the Ross Sea Marine Protected Area associated with global climate change.

We are finally departing Wellington on a beautifully calm and sunny day to begin our voyage to Antarctica. Everyone onboard is pleased to be heading off, and took the time to check out the nice views of land and call and text our loved ones as we cruised out of the Wellington Heads.

Sadie Mills, NIWA

Pablo Escobar-Flores prepping CPR on the fore deck.

Moira Decima, NIWA

Deploying the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR).

Pablo Escobar-Flores, NIWA

It was a pretty magical departure as a pod of Common Dolphin cruised around with us as we sailed out of Wellington Harbour from Burnham Wharf in Evans Bay all the way out to the heads.

Pippa Low, University of Auckland

An albatross cruising just outside the harbour heads.

Pippa Low, University of Auckland

Tangaroa Marine Environment and Ecosystem Voyage 2018

Research subject: Antarctica