...Who would have thought: it’s my turn again to write the daily journal, which means that it’s been a long time since the last time and that only means one thing: this fantastic adventure in the North Sea, full of good times, great experiences and so many miles travelled, is coming to an end. In short, it’s been great. A bit sad now but excited at the same to time to go home to those we left behind and explain how lucky we were to have lived aboard the “Neptune” these past two months.
I'll say goodbye to you now and see you next time. Thank you, Oceana.
Today has been great day’s work, one of those days that makes putting together a campaign like this worthwhile. We discovered a reef of polychaete worms of the Sabellaria cf. spinulosa species at Brown Bank, in the westernmost part of the Dutch waters. We conducted an 80-minute ROV on the seabed to film the reefs that these little builders have made by cementing tubes together to create reefs up to 30 centimeters tall that cover several square meters.
The human factor is undoubtedly the most important thing on any campaign. You can have campaigns without ROV, without dredges and without CTD, but you can’t have a campaign without a crew. The Oceana crew for this campaign has stayed steady at around 18 - 20 people. In theory, it should be hard to all live together on a 50-meter boat for two long months of hard work. In theory…
Life aboard a ship is a strange thing: all the crew members, each with their daily chores, packed together in a limited space and surrounded by the sea.
The boat becomes an ecosystem where each crew member seeks their space. It takes time to adapt to the boat, the rest of the crew, the hours on and off…and once you do, you realize that every day is the same, like a time loop, over and over again like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day”.
It’s been over 40 days since the expedition began. Today, a few of us met at our “movie theater” after the day’s work and we talked about how it felt like we had been here forever. It's as if we’ve always known each other and there’s no world beyond the Neptune and its horizon. But at the same time, we realized that time has flown by and that what seemed so long away at first has started to barrel towards us like a runaway train: the end of the campaign. I think this is a clear reflection of what life is like at sea, intense but rewarding every day.
It’s gratifying to be back at sea again after a few days in port. It was a shame to have to limit the dives with our Dutch colleagues Ben, Harold, Peter, Flor and Udo because of the crane and bad weather, although we did have the opportunity to return to Groningen and have a great time instead.
A day in port and we wake up in Holland, surrounded by windmills and four meters below sea level, but this time are no bizarre and unpredictable love story, only the tide. Everyone returned to their nest, burrow, shelter or bunk after a nighttime foray into the streets of Groningen, and no one deserted.
We’re moored in Eemshaven port in the Netherlands and we’re now past the halfway point in the expedition.
Throughout this time, we’ve been quite a few days without having seen land, right in the centre of the North Sea and SCUBA diving in some amazing places such as the Norwegian coast and in Scottish waters. Even though we have been enjoying being out at sea, it’s always nice to harbour and have some time off.
I've started my adventures out here in the North Sea, which was unknown territory for me until today.
Jorge (our GIS analyst) and I travelled on Monday to Eemshaven port to join the expedition for the Danish leg. For two weeks we’ll be carrying out research in several areas of interest in Dutch waters, looking for essential habitats for fish species as well as for the marine ecosystem in general.
The combination of overfishing and an unprofitable fleet is starting to become a frequent occurrence in the Mediterranean. It may sound contradictory, since logic would seem to dictate that the more you fish, the more you earn, but the reality is that the consequences of reaching a certain level of overfishing has an impact on people.