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April 22, 2011

Time goes by, so slowly…

BY: Carlos Minguell


© OCEANA / Carlos Minguell


I get out of bed, and the sun is almost an inch above the horizon. Not that we´re late risers… here it´s early dawn, just after five and already daytime. Night falls at nine, giving us more than 16 hours of light each day. And with good reason, since my day is fully occupied.
Today, we´re at the northwestern Gulf of Bothnia (in Sweden, a little above the 63rd parallel) and our tasks involve the following: ROV, dredge, CTD, diving, ROV. Breakfast in the morning, “lunch” before diving and dinner before the ROV. I don´t think there´s room for anything else! I´m in charge of photographing everything (except food), although at the time of writing I will focus on diving.

But first, a brief summary of the other tasks. ROV: Great both in the morning and afternoon. The ROV-techs are looking for another challenge, because they´ve already hit the target. Draga: After four trials, we got a good sample of mud, which scientists are so fond of (Inexplicable, but true: you have to see how they enjoy getting their hands on this cold mud!). CTD (the name comes from Conductivity/Temperature/ Depth. Don´t blame me, I didn´t name it!) wasn´t bad for the first try: A couple of tweaks and the secrets of salinity, temperature, concentration chlorophyll and oxygen saturation for each depth will be revealed.

And now, for the diving. First, we dress carefully. Tired, I pull on my gloves for the dive, and then the hood. Cursing the designers of the dive suit, I struggle to pull it over my jaw. But five minutes into the dive, it seems the gloves and hood are of no use as they are already filled with water. We dive close to shore, about 7 metres deep, with visibility ending at about half the distance. It was the richest in wildlife so far: many algae, a bit of moss, snails and a pair of four-horned scorpion fish. What a fish! Ugly, but nonetheless fascinating. Strangely, one of them is plastered with tiny leeches. Poor thing (the fish). At 43 minutes, I signal to Klaus to end the dive, so as not to drop the camera from my hands. More tomorrow.