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April 16, 2016

An early morning

BY: Magnus Danbolt




A worsening forecast forces the expedition to an early 0500 start to make the most of the day before the wind gets too strong. The changing weather has laid a blanket of fog over the western part of Scania where we are working. Leaving Råå with our boats Popp and Elias, we have to cross one of northern Europe’s busiest shipping lanes, with 40000 ships a year, in as little as 200m visibility. We are trusting in Popp’s radar and plotter as big ships pass us on port and starboard, close enough for us to make out their giant grey shadows as they steam by.

Two hours later, we are safely on our first site close to the fog-covered Danish coast, with a submarine cable and a close-by reef. On Popp, we are getting the ROV ready to document the life in the reef area. We are doing a couple of transects with the sonar to pinpoint the reef before putting the ROV in the water for the first dive. Disappointingly the reef is not a reef, only sand, no hard bottom, and might be just from the laying of the submarine cable. However, it’s important to record as well.

The time is getting late and we move to site 2, a sand excavation area. We are going to record the effects the excavation has on marine life. The fog has lifted slightly and the coastline is almost visible. On the sonar we can see deep holes in the seabed before we arrive in the marked excavation zone and we decide to put the ROV in the water again. When Albert, the ROV pilot, is doing his pre-checks of the little submarine, something is not right and we have to abort the dive. Albert and his technician Brais go through the system but come up empty. The ROV is dead and we have to call it a day. As promised, the wind is increasing on our way back to Råå. Soon the weather is too rough for ROV work anyway. 

As soon as we are in port, the ROV crew starts troubleshooting. The rest of the team packs up and returns to homebase in Malmö to start analyzing the data recorded so far. The day won’t end until late evening, as is usual during field work 🙂 

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