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Back on track ... well almost

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That was an interesting 48 hours, I have never seen rain like it, at times is if we were under a water fall! The wind even with us being tucked up tight in Falmouth, could be heard screaming all around the boat. We had a constant wind speed of 48 knots for a while and gusts over 80 knots. I think we made the right decisions to run, see the pics below!

As we have been stuck at anchor for a couple of days, I haven't really got much to chat about. But Tom and Nigel have had a far more interesting time, when a couple of unexpected visitors landed on the boat over the weekend, I will pass the blog over to Tom.

MagicSeaeed Map
Wind and swell map from MagicSeaeed. Yep, Falmouth was the best place!

In our sheltered location off Falmouth, the ship proved an attractive proposition for animals seeking cover from the impending storm. First up a Hummingbird Hawkmoth was seen coming to light in the plotting laboratory. These stunning moths are named for their similarity to Hummingbirds in flight due to having incredibly fast wingbeats - up to 85 beats per second! Though little more than two inches long, Hummingbird Hawkmoth's are well known long-distance migrants. The most likely natal origin of this wee beast was either Southern Spain or North Africa. It was likely trying to fly back to the warmer south (return migration), but got into difficulty soon after leaving land with gale force winds. The moth was kept in an insect pot overnight and released in the morning in warm sunshine. It was seen to fly strongly back towards land…. a wise move!

As the storm grew and with torrential rain and blasting winds gusting up to 80mph, there were further incidents of distressed wildlife. Shortly after night fell, we were alerted to the presence of a tiny bird seen by one of the crew, in a cold, bedraggled and weary-looking state, sitting silently in a corner of the ships brightly lit garage. On arrival, several other exhausted birds were subsequently found, all them were European Storm-petrels! The tiny pelagic birds, little more than sparrow-sized, were kept in care overnight in a cardboard box containing fresh water, which was placed in a warm, dark place.

It was wise to look after these birds. The name Petrel refers to St. Peter because Storm-petrels appear to walk on the water when feeding. However, the traditional sailors name for storm-petrel is the Mother Carey's chicken, which is thought to translate to 'small birds of the Virgin Mary (Mater Cara)'. They were often known as `sailor's' friends, as seeing they were regarded as forewarning sailors of impending bad weather The legend is that each bird contains the soul of a perished sailor and it is considered most unlucky to kill them.

As with the Hawkmoth, the petrels were in a far healthier looking state the next morning and with a helping hand, were released safely back out to sea in calmer sea conditions. Thus giving hope that we will be blessed with good luck for the remainder of the trip.

Images from Cruise
A selection of images from our research cruise

Even though we were anchored there were still some jobs to be done, Mark had some otoliths to read, data sheets needed checking and the boat was giving a bit of a tidy up. Us scientists can be very messy creatures

On Monday though everything had been checked, corrected and tidied. Joroen, Elisa, Antonio, Paul and Lavinia, treated the boat to a number of short presentations which included a brief over view of Poseidan, oceanography 101, plankton and the glider work. Considering the short nature in which they had to prepare,the guys did a brilliant job with the tv lounge filled, with people asking questions at end which always shows that they were listening!

As we have been at anchor it gave us an opportunity to do some angling. In the past we have caught dogfish, ling, conger and even turbot. However this time all that we could seem to catch was mackerel no matter what we did. Richy and I even tried to get a dogfish but we couldn't even get them interested in our baits. Elisa though was more successful and caught a couple of mackerel. Of course being the modest type she didn't go on about beating us at all!

The weather has dramatically improved and we are back out surveying, the storm has meant that we are not going to able to pick up any of the transects around the Scillies or try and pick up the glider. But we have come up with a plan that will see us working until Wednesday night. I thinks this is plan M, but I not totally sure.

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