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Thursday, March 3, 2011

RV Celtic Explorer Newfoundland & Labrador Fishery Survey: DAY 32

Date 2/03/2011 Time: 23:00 hrs (UTC)

Position:   47 57.84N   50 22.89 W   Wind speed 10 knots

Our last day (#32). It was a busy one with lots of research fishing sets in the morning followed by a big clean up in the afternoon.  The weather was much kinder to us today and allowed us to continue to collect valuable data.  During our sets, a sample of shrimp was measured using callipers to measure their carapace length.

Measuring Shrimp – Carapace length using callipers (Photo: Kate Barley)

After a scientific fisheries survey, there is a lot of cleaning up to do …

Graduate students Kyle Krumsick and Genevieve D’Avignon doing the final clean up of the Wet Lab
(Photo: Kate Barley)

Sea Technician Ed Stern making the wet lab shine!  (Photo: Kate Barley)

Deckhand Alec Carty working on lines in preparation for docking tomorrow (Photo: Kate Barley)

Heading westward towards St. John’s – who could not resist putting in the last sunset of our trip
(Photo: Kate Barley)

The sunset was once again wonderful today and I could not help putting in our very last one.  Blogging was new to me at the start of the trip and now I will miss it!  It has been an entertaining way to keep people at home informed and for everyone who has followed us along the way and enjoyed looking at my photographs as much as I enjoy taking them, thank you!  (And if anyone is interested, all photographs taking on this trip will be available to view online through my online gallery, a link can be sent on request).   

And so the survey ends. We wish to thank the Irish Marine Institute for providing us not only with a fine vessel, but with the best of sea mates and crew. Captain Antony Hobin, First Officer Kenny Downing, Officer of the Watch Richard O’Regan, oceanographers Aodhan Fitzgerald and Sheena Fennell and all of the crew were in every respect professional and first rate. It is a trip that we all will remember, in particular the graduate students who for some this was their first time at sea. They may particularly miss the home cooking of Pat and Mickey.

Farewell from all of us …

Blog by Kate Barley with ending by Chief Scientist Dr. George Rose

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

RV Celtic Explorer Newfoundland & Labrador Fishery Survey: DAY 31

Date 1/03/2011 Time: 23:00 hrs (UTC)

Position:   48 01.79 N   47 24.16 W  

Wind speed 40 knots SW, seas 5-6 m

After almost a day of calmer seas – the most we have this trip – we are back in moderate sea states with SW winds ripping across the Grand Banks. We are now near the infamous Flemish Cap, or Bonnet Flamande, as it may have been named by early French fishermen. How the name came about is still in doubt, but the form of this most eastward extension of the Grand Banks does resemble a cap or bonnet.

The Bonnet is also the furthest eastward extension of the continental shelf of North America, and millions of years ago before the opening of the North Atlantic was joined to Spain and North Africa. Ancient fossils found on the eastern shores of Newfoundland are the same as those in Morocco! But it was the rocks of western Newfoundland that inspired Newfoundland geologist Hank Williams to provide unequivocal evidence of the theory of plate tectonics and continental drift in the North Atlantic. And still the drift goes on. Newfoundland and the Grand Banks, with the Flemish Cap its trailing edge, moving doggedly westward at a speed of about 1 cm per year.

The Flemish Cap became infamous in the movie ‘The Perfect Storm’, as supposedly Captain Linda Greenlaw on the vessel Hannah Boden screamed to Billy on the doomed vessel Andrea Gail - ‘The Flemish Cap’, then ‘Billy, you are going into Hell’.

The Great Big Seas (in the singular also a Newfoundland music group) off the Flemish Cap (Photo: Laura Wheeland)

Everything is beautiful, in its own way, goes the song…

Crabs are often used as models for alien creatures in horror or adventure films – made much larger of course. And surely if crabs were very large they would be formidable and frightening creatures. Fortunately for us they are not. Around the fishing world, crab is considered a delicacy and the North Atlantic and Newfoundland and Labrador are no exception. The Snow Crab is by far the most important crab species here. Male Snow Crabs are much larger than females and go through several moults of their shell during their lifetime. Only males are taken in the commercial fishery (thought to be a natural form of conservation). Since the decline of Atlantic cod, Snow Crab has been the mainstay of the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery.

The face only another Snow Crab (Chionocetes opilio) could love (also known as Queen Crab). (Photo: Kate Barley)

Tonight will be last night of the survey. Tomorrow we head for St. John’s and a quick demobilization before the Celtic Explorer refuels and heads back across the Grand Banks and to Cork, Ireland, where the trip began in January.

We will try to post a final blog tomorrow evening.

Blog by Kate Barley and George Rose.