April 28-30 2022 | Mozambique channel
Ioannis Kalaitzakis and Lea Nupnau
While continuing the stations of Leg1, the OPEXO of the RESILIENCE mission (he is in charge of the coordination of an oceanographic expedition, check People to know more about its role) gave us an extensive tour around this historic and breathtaking vessel. Each group consisted of 6-7 students and the visit took us about 1 hour and a half. The visit focused on the scientific instruments permanently deployed on the Marion Dufresne, such as the echosounders, above the ship’s hull, the ferry box. During the visit we also got to see different parts of the ship that are rarely visited, such as storage spaces. In these parts there was a variety of equipment both scientific ones, both for the maintenance of the ship.
In the meantime, seminars are continuing on board: this time about drone technology and innovation. The speaker was Damian Mooney from Nelson Mandela University in South Africa. He presented his team’s work-history and current projects which are often designed to support scientific studies, as well as bio-inspired projects. Unfortunately, the drone regulations in South Africa are relatively strict, which is a true challenge to the team’s efforts.
The scientific shifts continue at both day and night stations. The students takes turns helping the scientists of the different teams: a key opportunity to get a multidisciplinary training on marine environmental studies. One remarkable scientific activity is the mesopelagic trawling. A trawl is deployed for sampling the layer with the most intense acoustics signal and identify the types of organisms associate to it. This is a particularly interesting activity for us as students, since we get to identify species we might have not seen before in real life. Additionally, this activity comes along with surprises, like a relatively big squid found in the last trawling effort (usually this trawl samples much smaller organisms, due to its small size).
On April 29th, a probe launch was scheduled all day and the operation was solely in the hands of the students, from the launch of the probe to data acquisition in the scientific headquarters. The students launched in turn and every 15 minutes from 2:30 am to 3:30 pm around 50 XBT probes (eXpendables Bathymetry Temperature). These single-use probes allow to measure the temperature from the surface to 1850 meters deep. The goal of the operation: to obtain a high resolution radial of the water column temperature of the eddy that we have been studying for 4 days. This data completes the high resolution data of the MVP (vertical moving profiler), deployed at the back of the boat during all the transit periods and oscillating between 0 and 300m depth.
Those who didn‘t work during the night shift on April 30th woke up with an incredibly calm sea in the morning which was perfect to observe some of the biodiversity of the Indian ocean. In one morning only we could observe Tuna, Jellyfish, Flying fish, Seabirds such as Turns and Fregattes as well as some Dolphins. When looking out for animals we also witness other things flowing past the boat such as algae and plastic pieces. Even though the latter is quite upsetting, sometimes you get some fun surprises!
As we already explained the wifi is limited on board and is used in priority for scientific activities (e.g. for downloading near real time satellite images to adapt our cruise schedule). Consequently we are getting more and more creative with how we keep ourselves entertained in the evenings, outside of the scientific shifts. Luckily RESILIENCE is already the 237th Mission of the Marion Dufresne and many people before us had to face a similar situations. As a result there are quite a few files on the ship‘s server dedicated to one‘s entertainment. These include a folder with Karaoke Songs which we happily indulged in on the night using the Screen and Mics at the ships bar. We certainly had a blast rocking the boat for more than just a couple of minutes!