Lauren here, the lab’s new mooring technician. Originally from Redondo Beach, CA, I moved out to Newport from Portland this past September. My background is in bioacoustics and more recently, fisheries, and I will be deploying, recovering, and building the hydrophones for the PMEL Acoustics Program.
I feel very fortunate to say that my first expedition for the lab is also my first time to Antarctica. It is currently day 10 onboard the IBRV Araon and day 3 in the Ross Sea. The objective of this cruise is to use various land- and ship-based research methods to gain a thorough understanding of the Terra Nova Bay region. The PMEL Acoustics Program has been collaborating with the Korea Polar Research Institute (KOPRI) for several years on multiple projects in Antarctica. On this trip I will be replacing a hydrophone triad near the Drygalski Ice Tongue that has been replaced annually for the last three years as well as deploy a second triad in a new location further north. The data collected from these deployments will allow us to characterize the soundscape of the Terra Nova Bay polynya.
Although I landed in New Zealand January 17th, the planning for this trip began months before my arrival. In October we built and shipped the hydrophones along with 11,000 pounds of mooring equipment. I also went up to Seattle for training, booked six flights, packed for two months at sea, and did lots of paperwork. After more than 24 hours of travel, I landed in Christchurch and was pleasantly surprised to run into the KOPRI team at the baggage claim. It was great to finally meet the people I had been emailing with. I spent the next two days at the port in nearby Lyttelton confirming that all of the equipment had arrived and was in working condition.
We departed the Lyttelton port at noon on January 20th. Our 8-day transit to the Southern Ocean had a few rough days but was an easy one according to the veterans. I set up my work area in the geology lab, which I am sharing with a team from UC Davis who will be deploying a glider, AUV, and ROV under the Nansen Ice Shelf. I secured my equipment, set up the GPS antenna, and attached the remaining strongbacks to the hydrophones. I have also been working with the chief scientist, chief bosun, and other mooring groups to strategize for safe and successful recoveries and deployments. Aside from science preparations, life onboard has been an easy and enjoyable adjustment. The Araon crew, KOPRI scientists, and foreign scientists are a wonderful group of people and it has been fascinating learning about their work. The food and quarters are great, the landscape is stunning, and there’s ping pong! This past weekend we enjoyed a feast to celebrate the Korean New Year.
As we continued south, the nights changed from short to nonexistent. We were greeted by a snowstorm upon arrival at Jang Bogo station on the 26th. The initial plan of refueling the station was aborted as the Araon became surrounded by sea ice. Instead, crew and cargo were helicoptered back and forth and we started the research cruise today with the hope that the sea ice conditions will be favorable for bunkering when we return in three weeks. The first two days of the research will be spent multibeaming the seafloor near Jang Bogo, and if all goes as planned, our first hydrophone triad will be in the water a week from tomorrow. I hope to report back then of a successful deployment, pending internet.