group mail play plus user camera comment close arrow-down facebook twitter instagram

First days

Even though this is not my first trip, I still feel the nerves before embarking. This time I already know some of the crew members sailing with me, but it is always a surprise who is going to be on board. The nerves were completely unnecessary; once on board, the Europa felt like home right away.  

I have been looking forward to this trip for months. Long before departing, my life sometimes seemed to evolve around packing – packing stuff I already had and ordering things I probably don’t need but just needed an excuse to buy. My merino clothing collection is expanding for every trip, and so is my collection of camera equipment - probably more professional by now than my actual skill level. But I happily keep investing, as nothing seems to be more photogenic than the Europa. And then there is of course finding books on all the wildlife for the regions we sail through, with my offline book collection now sized well above 30GB. 

We have been on our way for a few days now. Peter and I spend our first day getting the Manta Trawl ready. This task always takes more time than you would expect, but this day the process was exceptionally slow. As Peter perfectly put it, we were challenged by seasickness and the constant distraction of marine life. The Chilean coast rises straight out of the sea. There is very little continental shelf and so, we sailed over an area of deep-water upwelling, bringing sub-sea nutrients to the surface waters. As a result, there is plenty of food around, attracting seals, dolphins, fin whales (maybe even a blue whale in the distance?), and marine birds. Wondering albatrosses, Wilson’s storm petrels, white-chinned petrels, pink-footed shearwaters, sooty shearwaters, Peruvian pelicans and Peruvian gannets, Inca terns – the list goes on and I have no doubt that Peter will gladly share more about them in his blog. Peter’s enthusiasm is un-waivered by seasickness; there is nothing that will stop him from bringing positive energy and excitement for seabirds. I have learned so much already, and if anyone can turn me into a bird enthusiast it will be him. At the moment, I am more of a fish enthusiast. Unfortunately for me, fish tend to be a bit easier to spot when underwater.  

Yesterday we employed the Manta Trawl for the first time, and it went very smoothly. Smoother than I could have ever imagined. We made alterations on my last trip and I think after much trial and error we have now really got the hang of it. The afternoon was spent going through the samples while warming up in the sun - she finally made an appearance! Not much plastic was found, but as we are getting closer to the South Pacific garbage patch this will undoubtedly change. We did find some large Portuguese man o’ wars, loads of crab larvae, and of course salp. It is very exciting to have the opportunity to do research in the Pacific Ocean. So far, the Ocean Cleanup has been active in the North Pacific garbage patch but this is their first research mission into the South Pacific. This is a very remote area, and only very few studies have sampled plastic in this area. I am so grateful to be a part of it!

Comment on this article