by Anna Belcher
After 7 days of preparation; piecing together incubation chambers, calibrating instruments, splicing lines, recalibrating instruments, running tank tests, splicing more line and trying to work our way through all the woodshop tools, we were ready to go….it was trapping time! We wanted to collect some sinking particles from the ocean and measure their influence on denitrification and ammonox in anoxic waters. However, seeing Andrew and Nick and all the other scientists onboard running around with their incubation experiments on deck and getting up at all hours of the day to take samples, it really did seem like an awful lot of work to do aboard ship.
Fortunately Rick and his team had developed a cunning method to make the sediment traps do all the hard work whilst they floated around in the ocean; perfect. For such a great feat of particle science (rumoured by some to be an attempt to answer the most important unsolved questions of oceanography today), we’d need a slick team of eager (and slightly becrazed) oceanographers…introducing Team Trappers….
Chloe… the sensor fixing queen and knitting instructor to ensure everyone is equipped with dish cloths and ear warmers
Myself, Anna… the foreign import, whose role is still somewhat uncertain other than causing trouble and occasionally being able to reach something up high that none of the others are quite tall enough for (Rick says I am here for comic relief and as the official dog collar support person)
And of course chief of operations, Dr Rick Keil, the man with the idea and there to ensure us ladies don’t cause too much trouble out on deck.
Along came 17:30, the last supper before the big deployment. We munched happily on another great meal with Jaqui and Emily looking like they were attempting a last minute carb load with a bread roll, ‘jacket’ potato and pasta all on one plate! Working off a cruise plan deployment time of 1800 we figured we had plenty of time to enjoy our dinner. The call finally came at 1900, trappers to their battle stations. Hard hats and life jackets on, we walked out onto deck armed with adjustable spanners and cable ties, and began chucking thousands of dollars worth of equipment into the ocean!!
Unfortunately our beloved ship has some intestinal troubles and needs regular ‘comfort beaks’ to keep it happy. But nonetheless 7 hours later we had 7 traps out in the water collecting particles, and had managed to fit in a toilet stop for the ship to release its digestive system away from our sampling site (we weren’t so interested in collecting those particles). Having successfully managed to program our sediment traps to do the work for us by collecting particles and running their own incubation experiments, we now needed to filter lots of water to try and collect some more particles for analysis. Naturally we wanted to avoid actually having to do this ourselves, as who really wants to site for hours on end filtering when you could send down a water pump on a line to do the job for you.
With our traps incubating and our pumps over the side filtering, it was up to team trappers to deploy the most important piece of equipment…the camping chairs. Time to sit, relax, ‘watch the line’ and munch on some chocolate (the finest Swiss chocolate of course, none of this American Hersheys rubbish), ahhhh a job well done…until tomorrow when we get the traps back and find out how well behaved they were… Team Trappers out.