I really have no idea where the time has gone, it only seems like we have been at sea a couple of days but we are now over half way through the survey. I haven't even talked about who is on the survey or about our lovely new net. Which is a lot less white then it was taken on to the boat. We may have to get the Vanish out before we give it back to Pinbush!
For this year’s survey we a lot of the same faces back again, one notable absence is Steve, who after 37 years of working at Cefas called time and is currently sitting at home with his chickens, the lucky so ands so. But his presence is most certainly missed.
To cover the grid we are working 24 hours so we have a split in to two shifts, on days are Richy, Mark, Ken, Antonio and myself as 2IC. We also have Elisa our oceanography expert, who is working an extended day and supplier of the finest Italian coffee and chocolates as well as some lovely herbal teas. Richy is new to the survey this year but he has a wealth of fisheries survey experience and is our semi tame otolither, who is at his happiest when standing by the sorting table. Having said that he has started to take a shine to the plankton samples and drinking lemon, ginger and manuka honey tea! A changed man.
On nights we have Jo, who for the second half is taking the 2IC role over from Dave. We then have James, Dave, and joining us for the rest of the trip Jo, bringing all her pelagic experience to help. We also have Lavinia and Sam lending a hand as they download the data from Zephyr. Paul also joined us at Falmouth, plankotn taxonomist by trade, he is splitting his time with both shifts helping with the plankon sample processing and helping out in the wet lab.
Oh and of course we have Jeroen, who is working until we tell him to go to bed because he has lost the power of speech. He is doing a fantastic job as SIC and having to deal with all of us and our demands, such as more fish, comfier mattresses and non squeaky pillows!!
The major new change this year is the purchase of a brand spanking new net form KT nets in Ireland, and a set of very impressive doors from Morgere in France. The net is called 20 x 40 herring trawl, basically you should get a 20 metre headline height (vertical opening) and a 40 metre wing end opening (horizontal spread). It does look the real business and what has really impressed Jeroen is that the net has been entered onto the FSS as the VDK 20*40 trawl, the VDK stands for van der Kooij. So Jeroen has a net named after him!
This is the first year we have a bespoke built net and set of doors purely for this survey, it has meant a steep learning curve of how to set it up and fish with it, but it is yielding very good results. Although with some of the marks we saw in the Western Channel it would have incredibly foolish if we had not caught anything!
We are still zig zagging up the Bristol Channel, the marks have so far been smaller and farther apart but we are keeping our spirits up by being supplied with delicious chocolate by Elisa and Ken's little raps are making us all smile. So far he has managed to make the Macarena lyrics fit any song playing, even some by Portishead!
Just a few pictures of the net being shot away and hauled plus the two shifts hard at work.
Right I'm to have some bread and butter pudding.