The Ocean Vacuum Cleaner

The Ocean Vacuum Cleaner Featured Image

As we sit writing this in the Tangaroa library the sway of the Southern Ocean perpetuates the feeling that this is all an incredible dream we are fast asleep within.

There isn’t a city light or cellphone tower in sight from our little dot on the south-east coast of New Zealand (44°37.5 S, 174°12.4 E). Floating lonesome amongst the seabirds, the vast ocean around us is a subtle reminder of how insignificant we are, but how important the month’s work ahead will be (so we sure hope this isn’t just a dream!).

Our departure was only possible after a busy few days in Wellington’s port loading copious amounts of gear, setting up a wide array of labs, and dealing with the logistical challenges that accompany oceanographic research, namely the everchanging water body beneath us. Lesson number one: humble duct tape and bungy cords should never be underestimated at sea.

Our company is diverse, insightful and always cheery. Our cabins have already started to feel like home, perhaps a result of the fact that most of us truly are at home out at sea. The food is reliably abundant and delicious (perhaps too much so…) and we have made ourselves very familiar with the dining room and ice-cream freezer. If it weren’t for the onboard gym, the boat would have to work a lot harder to get us home!

Despite these creature comforts we have wasted no time getting to work, deploying our plankton net periodically to discover what is living in the waters below. Scientists are prepped and ready to start round-the-clock sampling cycles when we find the salps. This means it’s time for us to leave the library and join the rest of the scientists in the illusive world of salps, but we will be back for more insight soon so keep an eye out!

More information about the voyage can be found here.


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