With the beautiful backdrop of the Inner Hebrides, we’ve got a day packed with science and filming.
The diving team is studying the benthos and once more bring specimen aboard. This starfish is regrowing several arms lost in an unknown event.
Water quality analysis near a salmon farm, plankton net trawls scanned for microfibers and plankton diversity, bird watching and cetacean surveys are all adding to our growing data set.
We’ve also started to compare surface water temperatures measured with a replica of the wooden bucket, such as would have been around in Charles Darwin’s times, with modern equivalent and the electronic sensors the University of Plymouth brought on board.
The biggest task today is the installation of our wind turbine, which was greatly helped by the ship’s engineer Daniel.
Once up and running, its operation and purpose was filmed in the style of an interview by Lorimer and Jasper. Watch this space!
Meanwhile, I had a bit of fun running a 12 V fan off the battery we charged with it… Captain Ben thought it hilarious.
The exhaust repair successfully completed, we’ve set sail as soon as leaving the dock and are cruising comfortably South at 5 – 6 knots, now powered by the wind.
Sustainability in practice!
We’ll pick up this theme with the installation of a wind generator aboard in the next few days.
The gentleness of the motion and tranquility of sounds of wind and waves around the ship is good for the soul and everybody’s mood is lifted.
As we are progressing from Lewis to Harris, we get busy with casual observations of cetaceans before we even start our dedicated survey: pods of porpoises, two minke whales traveling together and adult common dolphins with juveniles. Joe identified the sighting of a species new to our voyage as striped dolphins.
The slight sea state allows crew to carry out maintenance aloft.
Meanwhile, voyage crew relax in the sunshine while not task with watch duties.
From my vantage point on the bowsprit, I observe the distinct change in behaviour of a pod of six common dolphins: I first see them cross our bows in NEly direction, turn due north to meet us, then play in our bow wave, turning belly-up and showing their underside for a while, travelling south with us, before departing in SSWly direction.
Is it as much fun for them as it is for us to watch?
Even as the blue skies turn grey nature’s spectacle is awe-inspiring.
Soon we’ll be anchoring and taking more samples for analysis.
A shard of pottery in a field reminds me of something in the history of the valley I live in.
Market gardening in the Tamar Valley (Devon and Cornwall, UK) has a rich tradition of growing anything from snowdrops and daffodils to soft fruit and apples. The industrial revolution brought on the intensification of horticulture, with higher demands on the maintenance of soil fertility.
This is where ‘night soil’ came in handy: human excreta, collected by the night soil men from buckets, cesspools and privies in Plymouth and Devonport Dockyards. It used to be transported in barges upstream with the tide and spread around the fields (I just hope that the same barges were not used to transport the food downstream …)
What is the significance of this shard of pottery in this story?
Night soil also contained other wastes: discarded pots, plates and bottles thrown out and broken when no longer useful. If you are lucky enough to have a garden in the Tamar Valley, you are as likely to find a beautiful glass medicine bottle, a clay orange marmalade jar or any number bits of patterned dinner plates, as you are to pierce your fingers on sharp pieces of broken greenhouse glass.
I fancy this as a piece of traditional Cornish blue and white striped crockery from many decades ago…but that’s just a fancy guess.
This little leaf promising to emerge is special! Granted, mature beech trees have been sporting green for some days now, but this little tree has had its roots in our ground for barely 2 months.
We planted a small stand of beech, sweet chestnut and oak trees to offset the rather elaborate carbon footprint I was going to accrue with my extensive travel plans this year, some of which have been cancelled already, others may follow.
Nevertheless, watching these trees grow will be a delight, I am glad they are making a start and they will do a good job, whether or not I’m contributing to the global CO2 emissions by using aeroplanes!
One thing noticeable for its absence is traffic on roads and vapour trails across the sky.
I know that this spells hardship for the economy, business, workers, people stranded abroad and all of us wanting to connect with friends and family in person, but I can’t help appreciating the reduced noise and air pollution as a positive (if temporary) side-effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Perhaps, individually and collectively, we will learn something about organising work and leisure with less dependence on transportation, a more sustainable way of going about our days, that outlasts this crisis.
This (https://cbraungardt.com) is a personal blog and the product of my experience, research, conversations and, quite possibly, occasional mistakes. If you read and use information from this blog, then it's at your own risk. Unless credited with a citation, I only publish my own images and words, so please note that I hold the copyright for all the material and you cannot use it to reprint or publish without my written consent.
Now and then, I might change the topic of my musings, edit previous posts, or even change my mind - I consider this a natural consequence of having an open and curious mind.