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Collecting data in the Antarctic Ocean

It took Einar Loshamn (26) only a few seconds to decide when he was presented with the opportunity to collect data for his Master’s thesis in marine biology on a research cruise in the Antarctic Ocean. He has now collected data for a few days around South Georgia and posts this report:

 

OVER: Einar in front of the platform which will collect much of the data for his thesis.

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Einar studies krill together with German cruise participants Andreas Macrander (front) and Volker Siegel.

It is still difficult to tell you exactly what my Master’s thesis will focus on. That depends on the quality of the data from the submerged platforms. The working title for my thesis before we left Oslo was “Vertical distribution and trophic interactions for plankton and fish in the ocean around South Georgia”.

Vertical distribution relates to which species is found at various depths in the ocean. Trophic interactions basically look at who eats who. The idea is that the large platform which looks upward will register living organisms in the water above it and hopefully detect patterns of behavior. Several of the organisms perform daily migrations and reach the upper layers of the water during nighttime. These patterns of behavior will hopefully be registered by echo sounders on the platform and reveal which species migrates when. I might also use the echo sounder results from the small platform and the ship to get an even better foundation for determining the vertical distribution of various species.

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The platform is collected after being deployed in the ocean for a few days.

Trawling is performed around the platforms to determine which species are found in the area and makes it possible to compare the acoustic data with fish caught by the trawl. I will most likely focus on krill, amphipods, and deep sea fishes in my thesis.

Only half a year into my Master’s I still have some way to go before I know exactly what will be required to finish my thesis. In particular, I think interpreting the echograms will take both time and effort.

Finally, I would like to say that I feel extremely privileged to be able to participate on this research cruise. It is unusual for a Master’s student to be able to do a thesis on eco systems in the Antarctic Ocean. This has so far been a fantastic journey filled with extraordinary experiences. I think the memories from this voyage will help me through when the deadline for the thesis comes depressingly close.

 

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Einar photographed with South Georgia as backdrop.


 

Written by Einar Loshamn
Master's student in marine biology at the University of Oslo