By Rafael Laso Perez |
The excitement runs through my veins. In a couple of hours we will arrive to S3, my first sampling station of the PS107 cruise, which researches the Fram Strait, the gate to the Arctic Ocean. It is 20:00 o’clock and although I should get some rest for the night sampling, I head to the ship gym. I really need to burn the adrenalin.
During the gym time I think about this cruise. It is my first one. Therefore, this experience comes with the emotion of the first times. I am looking forward to seeing this beautiful ocean covered on ice. I am thrilled to take my first samples, to become a true field scientist, who produces his own data. I want to experience the life on board and gather my own stories about the working process, the funny moments on board and the satisfaction of the well done work.
While running on the belt I remember the departure from Tromsø two days ago. Under a magnificent sun, we pass by splendid fjords flanking our way out of this small city in the north of Norway. It was a good way to start a trip that I am sure it will imprint a deep impression on my scientific spirit.
The first days are travel days to our sampling stations in the Fram Strait between the Svalbard islands and Greenland. However, this does not mean free days. We have to set up our lab spaces, prepare all the materials and get ready for the upcoming sampling sites. For newbies on board like me, it means also to learn life on the ship: the way to the eating room or the labs, the meal schedules and the way to contact friends and colleagues through special email addresses. We have as well daily meetings to know about the weather situation and the scientific schedule. In our second scientific meeting, the new dwellers got the unfortunate news that we expect to see little ice. July is a quite late moment of the year and climate change does not help. Although better for the travel of the ship, it is a bit of a bit disappointing for the new ones like me. Nevertheless, the excitement is still there. Tonight I will take my first samples!
After finishing the sports session, I go to my room to take a shower and get some hours of rest. However, a strange sounds accompanied with a small shake occurs. It is a bit different from other times. I wonder if it is because of a worse weather, when I see it through the window. The white piece outside is without any doubt ice. I run for my polar clothes and my camera and go as fast as I can to the main deck. Small pieces of ice are surrounding us. I cannot see really far away since it is really foggy but you can distinguish a large amount of ice pieces. Some smaller, some bigger. In some of them, you can see refreshing blue spots (the so called “blue ice”). In others, you can appreciate the deep hidden part under the water. The biggest pieces in front of the ship are cracked by the front part making an overwhelming sound in the middle of the absolute silence of the Artic. In spite of the cold and the tiredness, I stay a while observing the amazing view. Some people join and we are able to see a seal on one of the ice blocks. Time flies and in a little while, I will be sampling but I cannot go to rest. The excitement of the journey is back in my veins.