Plus it was a beautifully sunny noon today. You could actually look out the window in the mess and see natural light! It’s practically summer! I did rather make the mistake of believing that and went outside with wet hair, trust me.. it’s not really summer out there, it’s a wet hair freezing land. Not to mention that we’ve had a few days of above zero with rain which is just like setting an aussie trap. The road seriously slick, a lot like someone went and laid hundreds of banana peels on a foot path. It’s a land for ice ninjas out there (apparently these Scandinavians are secretly ninja descendants). I’ve decided that walking hip deep in snow is infinitely preferable to banana ice concussion, sure I look slightly like an awkward snow waddling duck, but hey, I’m Australian I have a reputation to keep up!
But enough about the weather. I’ve no doubt that you’re sitting on the edge of your seat, full of hope, anticipation and questions. What’s been happening? What’s the goss? Who’s been doing what and what awesome new things have you found?
Well, for starters, we’ve been busy, and that means I’ve been busy, and work before blog I’m afraid. Since I don’t get paid for this, nor do I get class credit, it sometimes has to take a back seat. Which is a shame, however don’t fret, you’ll be brought up to speed in no time!
We (being group 4, the activities of the other groups are still somewhat mysterious to me) have run a couple of missions with the AUV and with the ROV. We sent the ROV out looking for a lost transponder (one of the gadgets that helps the AUV to know where it is) which went missing a few years ago. However, sadly that didn’t work out. The little ROV we’re using isn’t so fond of the cold, and has a tendency to die mid mission. Though, to be fair, it lasts about 1 hour, I’d last a minute maximum. So I’m not judging!
For the most part the AUV missions worked well. It’s the little itty bitty where they didn’t run so well that caused the kind of drama usually only found in B grade scifi movies. On the last mission, a mission well beyond the range of all previous missions, our AUV developed a little too much autonomy and explorative spirit and decided to head off to a small island somewhere, presumably in search of palm trees and tequila. Suffice to say, this did not end particularly well, however everyone got to practice their rapid deployment responses and well.. it all worked out ok in the end, but I’m guessing that there might be a few more grey hairs floating around the place in the next weeks.
But science wise things have been good. At the very first brief glances at our data it’s all looking good. It’s looking like the creatures in the water column are heading up during “night” and down during “day” (I think I got that the right way around..). Which is cool, it’s good that what we are seeing matches the research that has been done before.
Also, I saw some bioluminescence off the pier, I don’t know what it was, some kind of jelly like critter, bobbing and flashing away, it was pretty awesome, and surreal! And the divers have got some completely amazing footage of creatures we landlubbers could almost never imagine. These creatures make the aliens on star trek look dull. And there’s just so much life! But I’ll come back to that over the next few weeks. We’re returning to Longyearbyen soon, which is quite sad, its awesome being here, and we have to start report writing, so I’ll try and share some awesome piccies to break up the “and today we wrote some more report.. “ Which looks like this: (not so exciting I think you'll agree)
So, I got to meet some of them today. You may now go green with envy. There’s few things more wonderful, I think, than sled dogs in their natural environment, with cold and snow and food and wilderness to run in. My guide, and the dog’s master, is the manager of the marine lab here, and I have to say, as lifestyles go it’s pretty cool. Spend the days doing awesome science and the nights running dogs, it’s pretty groovy having the wilderness just on your door step. So, thanks for letting me meet the awesome dogs! I shall find the web address so you too can meet some awesome dogs in the North J
And the wilderness isn’t something I’ve written about. Because it’s hard to describe. But being here is most akin, I’ve felt, to being in the middle of the Australian desert. It’s fine as long as the electricity keeps running and the water fills the pipes, but something fails or you walk a bit too far from home, everything changes. They are equally stark, harsh and dangerously beautiful places. They will chew you up and spit you out if you don’t respect them. But on the other hand, it’s amazing. The walk to the lab, along maybe 100m of dark road can be so different depending on the situation. Alone it can be beautiful and tranquil with a peaceful silence that seeps under your skin until you can feel the isolation as a blanket that reminds you how close the wilds are, how fresh the air is and how untamed some places still are. That or it can be the freakiest 100m of your life where you’re absolutely convinced a polar bear is going to eat you and every shadow is a harbinger of doom and death (I felt this the other night at about 3am and didn’t realise one of my mates was walking with me and he accidentally brushed up against me, I completely flipped out and actually yelped thinking I was someone’s dinner, it was hilarious). But as soon as you add people to the equation the whole situation changes, it’s like a little bobble of humanity is shielding you from the nature. I think there’s a reason nomadic tribes go around in groups, once you get enough people together you can collectively create your own world. Maybe, I’m sure there’s a PhD in that, some psychology/geography mash up.
I might have let my creativity get a bit carried away there..
But! I have waffled plenty for now, but I’m hoping to share some more science soon.