Wednesday, 23 January 2013

COTF4 Day 2: The Abyssal Plain

We continued steaming south west towards the PAP buoy site today, crossing over the abyssal plain which reaches depths of approximately 4,300m.

As expected, sightings were at a premium. Abyssal plains lack the upwelling and associated feeding found over shelf edge habitats. Somewhat like conducting surveys on intensive, monoculture farmland.

 R..V Celtic Explorer (c) Emila Chorazyczewska

A group of 5 common dolphins bow riding first thing this morning was the only cetacean sighting of the day. PAM picked up a few more dolphins thereafter as well as some sperm whale clicks this evening! A series of slow rhythmic notes, rather like a weak electric fence pulse, were the only clue we had to the presence of these large, deep sea predators which are known to feed on giant squid. Rather exciting all the same (at least for me!). 

Seabirds did little better to liven things up. A handful of fulmars, 3 great skuas and an average of 3-5 kittiwakes per half hour were the best we could manage in heavy swell, difficult light and frequent squalls. Not even a single gannet! Most birds logged today were heading north east, possibly moving towards land ahead of bad weather which is soon to follow…

Swell forecast for this weekend. All of us on board would like to take the opportunity to say hello to our respective Mammys back home...just in case!

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