By Josephine Rapp |
After a delayed start due to cancelled flights, our expedition started only two days ago. We left from Longyearbyen on Svalbard and reached the first station after only half a day – so preparing and setting up labs had to be very quick. By now, first samples have been successfully taken and everyone slowly adjust to everyday expedition-life.
I was very nervous for this cruise, because this time I am responsible for some instruments that I have never used before and will take samples for which I know only theoretically how to take them. The first exciting thing on the plan was the deployment of seven in situ pumps. These pumps are attached to a wire and are then lowered to specific water depths where they can be used to filter very large volumes of water directly on a filter. This way you can concentrate material floating in the water column on a filter and, depending on the filter type, use it for different analyses later. As a microbiologist, I want to use them to concentrate microorganisms from deep water layers to investigate their diversity, while Mine wants to use them for the analysis of microplastic at different water depth and Stefan uses them to quantify the amount of certain storage compounds produced by unicellular algae. Since each pumps weighs about 60 kilos and they need to be individually programmed in order to start pumping at a certain time and depth, the three of us were quite happy to do the preparation and planning of the deployment together.
My biggest concerns were that we would drop one of the pumps when attaching it to the wire and it would be lost to the deep Arctic Ocean, that the wire would come up again, but the pumps fell off on the way up or that they never even started pumping due to mistakes in the programming. And so, after attaching them, the only thing you can do is wait and hope, while already thinking about how to explain your supervisor that not only you didn’t get any sample, but that you also lost the precious instruments.
Finally, after very long 2.5 hours, the wire came up again and with it the first pump (pump Fred, picture). It was still there – as well as the other six (Ginger, Jimmy, Hulda, Frauke, Frankie and Sebastián)! All filters showed some coloring, already indicating a successful deployment! We were so happy and will hopefully be less nervous next time!