We are now, on the 11th of July, just north of Casablanca in Morocco and heading quickly towards Gibraltar.
The weather is good with very little wind, at last. After leaving Las Palmas a few weeks ago, the conditions have been really bumpy, with constant northerly winds up to 45 knots, and difficult working conditions. Nevertheless, the progression has been good and the scientific crew has made a great effort to assure good samples.
Some of the scientists have now been onboard since the 5th of June, and are therefore very pleased with the improved sea conditions. After such a long cruise, everybody is looking forward to coming to port in Casablanca early next week.
Last autumn, the research vessel Dr. Fridtjof Nansen set a northerly record since it was launched in Norway in 1993, also within the CCLME project. Right now, we are passing the most northerly position reached last year, and are still heading northwards.
Mamadou Dia and Hammoud Vadel, IMROP, Mauritania:
Find the text in French in box on the right.
During this cruise we have witnessed some amazing displays of the sea's extraordinary biodiversity, in a beautiful setting, which is fascinating for a scientist to experience. It is special opportunity to play an active part in a collaborative oceanographic investigation where we almost on a daily basis encounter marine species that we have never seen before, some of these demersal, others benthic, zooplankton, and even sightings of unexpected marine mammals and birds.
We also learn how to determine and interpret various hydrographic and biological variables, for instance levels of dissolved oxygen and chlorophyll. Furthermore, it is great to work in a multidisciplinary team representing four nationalities, all conversing in different languages but still somehow managing to understand one another. Here everyone, every day contributes to a common goal, to unravel the biological and oceanographic intricacies of the Canary Current Large Marine Ecosystem. Surely we went through an adaptation phase; at first the food was totally foreign and the unusual mealtimes and 6-hour shifts were a bit disconcerting, but finally we learnt to cope with this. It certainly helped that the chief steward and his team concocted exquisite dishes with a special meal each Saturday.
Sophia Talba, INRH, Morocco:
I am a PhD student at “Institut National de Recherche Halieutique” (INRH). The topic of my study is the transfer of micro-pollutants within the marine food chain along the Moroccan Atlantic coast. This year the institute gave me the opportunity to participate on the Canary Current Large Marine Ecosystem cruise with R/V Dr. Fridjtof Nansen.
This survey is my first experience as participant in a large oceanographic cruise, but for many reasons it will not be the last. I started the mission in Nouakchott (Mauritania), and have now spent about 6 weeks working on the ship. This has given me an opportunity to learn a lot of things. For instance, how to perform the environmental and plankton sampling (analyzing concentrations of dissolved oxygen, nutrient and chlorophyll sampling, phytoplankton collection, and depth-specific sampling of zooplankton by using the Multinet. Further, we also trawl for fish and benthic organisms at different depths. My main tasks are identifying, weighing and measuring individuals from various fish species, as well as sampling fish stomachs and livers for analysis of pollutants.
I think the most important thing for making the survey a good experience is my team and the crew working on the same shift. Everybody has been helpful and friendly.
In conclusion, I can say that when the weather is good, it’s very nice to be onboard.