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Blog Posts by: Carlos Minguell

Driven by a weather report of increasing winds, we jumped into the water earlier than usual near the island of Bullergrund, near Vaasa.

The dive was similar to the ones we did yesterday: we dropped down to 8 meters and were unable to position the metallic frame we use for sampling because it kept on sinking into the muddy seafloor. The visibility here is a bit over half a meter and it took us 30 minutes to walk underwater from the from the shore using our compass as the only guide.

Our workday started today just like it did in my previous diary entry: we were visited by journalists, only this time they were from the Finnish newspaper, Pohjalainen. Later, before heading to our new port of Vaasa, we conducted a dive in the area near Holgrundberget, in rather murky waters at a maximum depth of 3,5 meters.

After an early-morning visit by a team of reporters from TV4 Sweden, we conducted two dives around the island of Holmön. The first dive was rather unexciting: a flat seafloor that stretched almost to the shore and only a few species to document. The second dive, on the other hand, was far different: abundant marine plants—some, up to two meters tall—as well as a number of invertebrates that are often associated to the plants, like snails.

We were on our way back to port this afternoon after a regular day of dredging/ROV/CTD/dredging/ROV/dredging when we spotted the enormous corpse of a whale (or most likely Balaenoptera spp.) floating on the surface. It’s ironic that we haven’t seen even one of the giants in the almost 50 days of the expedition and now we see one that’s died. A pity.

The day rose with a calm sea and blue sky. I thought that was a sign of good omen for today’s dives in the deepest part of the areas we’re exploring in Denmark. But it wasn’t.

The winch that operates the ballast on the underwater robot (ROV) got out of bed on the wrong side this morning: it didn't want to move, despite all the efforts of our mechanics on board. So we changed the winch and then it was the pulley on the main cable that got stroppy with us.

We took advantage of a still-calm sea and filled the air tanks in the inflatables with twice the amount of air and packed some sandwiches with a plan to perform two dives on the coast while the Neptune is out working with the ROV and taking care of some other loose ends.

Calm sea, hot, but not muggy, and two dives in search of caves. I think most of the people on the expedition would settle for every day being like this one. The first dive was nothing special, but the second was interesting: when trying to go round a cape shortly after setting off, the current began to grow until we were virtually not going forwards, despite kicking fiercely with our flippers to help the electric torpedo that pulls us along under the water. We had to descend to -30m to make progress against the current, following the tortuous relief of the seabed.

Today the Campaigner who schedules the diary entries got it right for me! One of my diary entries finally falls on a diving day! I think having shared 20m2 for 45 days with me has softened her heart. Today, besides diving, I also went shopping with Cristina the Great Chef and then, in the evening, we carried out some ROV dives. As the night was approaching, the ROV dive ended up being a night-time one, so we had to really look carefully for the tiny animals in sea bed full of seagrass and algae.

Against all odds, at least my own, the campaigner on-board has told me it’s my turn to write the diary on a day when we’ve been to work according to plan. Let’s see what I can moan about now. Well, anyway, conditions at sea improved compared to Friday, we carried out 3 dives with the ROV with any problems – we even managed to get a sample of a starfish and we’re now trying to identify the type of starfish it is.

There’s not much to say when the wind keeps you at port all day. Before midday I managed to finish the work I had pending; sorting and classifying photos and making back-up copies. I also had a swim in the sea after the wind had swept away an “army” of jellyfish offshore. The wind had to be good for something! To be honest, thanks to the strong winds, I was able to watch Spain play in Euro 2016. If the weather goes our way and depending on when my next entry is scheduled for, I hope my next diary entry will be a lot more interesting!